Our singing community has existed for over 25 years. Experienced as well as novice singers attend local singing gatherings. At local gatherings we sing out of either the Denson or Cooper version of The Sacred Harp, which was first published in 1844 and has been continuously in print ever since.
“Shape-note” refers to a musical notation system designed to make reading music easy. Notes with note-heads of different shapes represent the four corresponding syllables: fa, sol, la, and mi. We sing each tune first by reading through the “shapes” and then on the words. As part of this 200 year old tradition of singing, singers sit in a hollow square facing each other, taking turns leading songs. Each section of the square represents one of 4 vocal parts: treble (like soprano), tenor, alto, and bass. Anyone can sing any part in whatever octave suits their voice. The singing is democratic in nature and the songs are all sung in 3 or 4 parts (5-6 parts when males sing treble and females sing tenor in octaves) without instruments.
The music has a distinctive modal sound, where each voice part is interesting and melodic. The singing is usually exhuberant, rhythmic and full of feeling!
All are welcome to participate regardless of previous musical experience or religious background. We have no political, institutional or religious affiliation. Though Sacred Harp Singing is not affiliated with any denomination, it is a deeply spiritual experience for all involved, and functions as a religious observance for many singers.