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Shape notes

GUEST,josepp 02 Feb 12 - 08:04 PM
bbc 02 Feb 12 - 08:16 PM
GUEST,josepp 02 Feb 12 - 09:04 PM
Desert Dancer 02 Feb 12 - 11:32 PM
GUEST,BobL 03 Feb 12 - 04:09 AM
Newport Boy 03 Feb 12 - 04:10 AM
glueman 03 Feb 12 - 07:10 AM
glueman 03 Feb 12 - 07:29 AM
GUEST,BanjoRay 03 Feb 12 - 07:42 AM
glueman 03 Feb 12 - 07:43 AM
GUEST,josepp 03 Feb 12 - 04:58 PM
Newport Boy 04 Feb 12 - 06:03 AM
GUEST,999 04 Feb 12 - 06:37 AM
maeve 04 Feb 12 - 07:21 AM
GUEST,tgx 05 Feb 12 - 12:40 PM
Artful Codger 05 Feb 12 - 07:00 PM
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Subject: Shape notes
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 02 Feb 12 - 08:04 PM

Anyone here an authority on shape notes and sacred harp singing?


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Subject: RE: Shape notes
From: bbc
Date: 02 Feb 12 - 08:16 PM

the FaSoLa website is a great starting place for learning about sacred harp singing. Do you have a specific question about it?

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Shape notes
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 02 Feb 12 - 09:04 PM

I can always tell it when I hear it. It has a very distinctive sound. I was wondering if anyone has done it with instrumentation instead a capella singing.


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Subject: RE: Shape notes
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Feb 12 - 11:32 PM

Probably, but it's pretty much counter to the point.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Shape notes
From: GUEST,BobL
Date: 03 Feb 12 - 04:09 AM

The nearest you'll come to Sacred Harp with instrumental accompaniment may be its transatlantic cousin, West Gallery. See example at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRrPrgwObYw.


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Subject: RE: Shape notes
From: Newport Boy
Date: 03 Feb 12 - 04:10 AM

It would be interesting - one of the distinctive features of the sound of sacred harp singing is that each line can be sung by voices at different pitches. So a soprano and bass can sing the same line in different octaves.

Depending on the instruments used, this could give some interesting tonal variations. But as Becky says, I don't see the point - the main spirit is in the voices and words.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Shape notes
From: glueman
Date: 03 Feb 12 - 07:10 AM

@josepp, some black churches sing Sacred Harp with keyboard accompaniment. You Tube has footage.


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Subject: RE: Shape notes
From: glueman
Date: 03 Feb 12 - 07:29 AM

Rocky Head Missionary Baptist Church


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Subject: RE: Shape notes
From: GUEST,BanjoRay
Date: 03 Feb 12 - 07:42 AM

Cath Tyler will be delivering shape note workshops at the Foaotmad
Gainsborough Old Time Festival 10-12 Feb, at Queen Elizabeth School, Gainsborough.

Ray


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Subject: RE: Shape notes
From: glueman
Date: 03 Feb 12 - 07:43 AM

A choral setting of Sacred Harp with piano accompaniment:

The Seven Last Words of Christ


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Subject: RE: Shape notes
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 03 Feb 12 - 04:58 PM

Not interested in voices with instrumentation, not interested in words. I want to know if there is pure instrumentation like this--instrumental compositions like a string quartet or even an entire symphony orchestra.


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Subject: RE: Shape notes
From: Newport Boy
Date: 04 Feb 12 - 06:03 AM

josepp - I think you are looking for something that doesn't exist. There is nothing unusual in the melodies or harmonies in sacred harp or shape note singing. It's generally straightforward 3- or 4-part harmony of fairly standard melodies. The only feature that is slightly unusual is that the melody is carried by one of the middle parts, but this also happens in other settings.

The distinctive sound, which you said earlier that you could always recognise, comes from the voices, and particularly the mix of high and low voices singing the same part. The performance at a fairly constant mezzoforte adds to the effect.

It would be possible to imitate the sound with instruments, but I see little point. A string quartet couldn't do the sound justice, unless they found a way of double stopping each part in octaves. An orchestra could certainly do it, and it might have some interest as a short quote in a longer piece, but for anything over 5 minutes it would be a waste of an orchestra's time.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Shape notes
From: GUEST,999
Date: 04 Feb 12 - 06:37 AM

Great write-up that will likely answer the PO's question.

http://www.paperlesshymnal.com/shapnote/shaped.htm


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Subject: RE: Shape notes
From: maeve
Date: 04 Feb 12 - 07:21 AM

Great link, Triple Neuf; thanks.

josepp, I understand the allure of the shape note/sacred hard/Southern Harmony harmonies. What's the harm in playing with instrumental versions to satisfy yourself as to the function and desirability? While to many of us the vocal sound is the reason for this kind of music, you can please yourself as to how instrumental versions might sound to you.


If you experiment, please let us know how it goes.


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Subject: RE: Shape notes
From: GUEST,tgx
Date: 05 Feb 12 - 12:40 PM

I am just a lurker here, but this discussion has made me think about this topic. To my ears, there is something about bagpipe music that makes me think about shape note singing. Perhaps it is the de emphasis on dynamics, or the effect of the drones intermingling with the melody, but they are similar some how. Just in case someone takes umbrage, I really enjoy singing shape note singing and I am partial to the pipes.


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Subject: RE: Shape notes
From: Artful Codger
Date: 05 Feb 12 - 07:00 PM

Composers like Joshua Billings and Jeremiah Ingalls pioneered the shape-note sound. Your best hope for finding instrumental music orchestrated in shape-note style would be to find names of composers from shape-note collections, then research those composers to see if they also wrote instrumental music.

You can sometimes come across instrumental versions of shape-note songs--Boston Camerata (besides singing many) has recorded a few instrumental-only renditions. I know that Aaron Copeland has done instrumental settings of some quaker songs; I'd be surprised if he hadn't set some shape-note songs as well. To what degree they'd retain the quality of the original harmonic treatments, however...


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