What: Annual Vermont All-Day Sacred Harp (Shape Note) Singing
When: Saturday, March 23, 2013, 10 am-4 pm
Where: Irasburg Town Hall, Irasburg, VT
Cost: Free! Donations will be accepted to cover hall rental
Fiery church music sung with gusto, Sacred Harp (also called Shape Note) music dates back to the 1770s, when singing teachers traveled around New England towns conducting singing schools. To help the musically uneducated person to learn the tunes and read the music, the note heads were not just circles as we know them today–there were triangles, rectangles and diamonds, and each shape was assigned its own name-so, fa, la, mi.
In Shape Note singing, there is no musical accompaniment—the human voice is the sacred harp. There is no conductor and no audience. Singers take turns being the leader of the “class”, standing in the “hollow square”, with the four harmony parts (bass, tenor, alto and soprano) seated on each of the sides of the square facing the center. The leader chooses a song, a pitch is given, and the song is sung, first time through using the shape names, and then with words. The singing is enthusiastic and full-voiced. Before the day is over, over 100 tunes will ring through the hall.
No experience is needed; Sacred Harp loaner tunebooks will be available at the sing. Many of the songs date back to the early days, but new sacred harp music is being written all the time. The music has been described as passionate, haunting, raw, powerful, and stark. Unless you grew up in the South, where Shape note music never went out of style as it did in New England, this church music will not sound like church hymns you are used to hearing. Newcomers are invited to stand in the center with the leader to experience the full power of the music.
In true sacred harp sing tradition, there will be a pot luck meal in the middle of the day. Please come for any or all of the day! The sing is being hosted by the Northeast Kingdom Shape Note Singers who meet once a month in Derby Line. Visit http://www.vtshapenotesingers.com for more info about the sing, or email Troad at firstname.lastname@example.org.