adrian is rad


Sacred Harp Singing, Awake, My Soul, and I Belong to this Band

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:05 pm

I saw a review of I Belong to this Band: 85 Years of Sacred Harp Recordings in the latest Rolling Stone (which I apparently have a subscription to, maybe because I’m a world famous radio DJ.) I tried to find Rolling Stone’s review online, but I did find one in Stylus.

From that CD, I found a documentary about Sacred Harp, Awake My Soul. Did anyone see this? Apparently it aired on PBS recently. The trailer actually give a decent, quick introduction to Sacred Harp singing.

For a taste of it, listen to my favorite song in this style (from the Alan Lomax-recorded Southern Journey, V. 9: Harp of a Thousand Strings – All Day Singing From the Sacred Harp by the Alabama Sacred Harp Singers):

Alabama Sacred Harp Sings – Sherburne (mp3)

Sacred Harp (wikipedia!) is a form of shape note singing, which was developed as a form of notating music such that four shapes on either a line or a space indicate the eight notes of the scale. Sacred Harp was a hymn book written using shape notes in 1850s. It’s been sung in pretty much the same way since that time, largely in the American South. See also: how Sacred Harp is sung.

Usually there is a different conductor for each song. The singers run through the melody once on solfege before running through the song once. They then move right on to the next conductor and the next song. There’s no practicing or rehearsing songs.

My favorite idiosyncrasy the style are that the singers just sing. There are no pretenses of being polished.

In much the same way that it’s been sung for the last 150-odd years, it’s still sung today, in fact, I could (and am considering) sing in a group in Palo Alto though, I have to admit I’m not very good at site singing.

One Response to “Sacred Harp Singing, Awake, My Soul, and I Belong to this Band

  1. adrian is rad » I’m a little hoarse: trying Sacred Hard singing Says:

    […] and I went to the one that meets weekly in Berkeley. I’ve written about Sacred Harp before here and more extensively over at the music […]

Leave a Reply

Spam protection by WP Captcha-Free

Powered by WordPress