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Southern Harmony and The Sacred Harp

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Members of The Appalachian Association of Sacred Harp Singers gathered April 11 at UK’s Niles Gallery to sing shape-note hymns from mid-19th century tune books such as Southern Harmony and Musical Companion and The Sacred Harp. Here they sing Wayfaring Stranger from The Sacred Harp. Photos by Tom Eblen | Staff

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5 Responses to “Southern Harmony and The Sacred Harp”
  1. Katherine Harper says:

    Thanks so much for these photos and recording. I purchased that book several years ago and just love that music. I wish I had known about it and gone to hear it.

  2. helena davis says:

    I read the Sat. issue of “Fa Sol La Mi in Harmony.” I am 73 yrs old and was born and raised in the mountains of WV. My dad taught all the children and his own family how to sing by shape notes, we had no instruments. His crippled mother taught all his brothers and sisters at her knees as they sit on the floor in front of her. He would buy all the shaped note song books we could afford, and we would learn every song in the book. We sang the full scale, from “do to do”, in perfect harmony.

    I noticed the shapes of the notes in your article, there were just the four shapes, but “la” was on the “D” line in the “G clef and “la” was also on line “G”, in the same clef. I do not know if you can answer me, but did they just sing the four notes you mentioned? Were all there songs compiled with the sounds of four notes? We sang all eight notes, but they were always the same shape, but on different lines in different keys. If you play piano, you could read the notes, shaped or round, just by reading the lines. In singing shape notes, “me” was always shaped like the “me” in “Wonderous Love.” If I were singing by the shapes in the same song, in “Wonderous Love” “la” was on the line “D” and also on line “G” which would be two different sounds, if singing the full scale. All seven notes of the scale are shaped different, but always sound the same. Thanks for a response.

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