November 17, 2005 9:16 AM Subscribe
Sacred Harp singing uses a system of four shaped notes first introduced by Little and Smith in The Easy Instructor in 1801. The four shapes denote the four syllables (fa, so, la, mi) of the scale used in American Singing Schools. Of course, solfege has been codified since at least the 11th century, but the adoption of shape-notes dovetailed with the tradition of Sacred Harp singing in the United states. With it's emphasis on participation and instruction in the moment, Sacred Harp singing is in the midst (NPR story) of a renaissance. MP3s here and here. Here is an excellent set of resources, and here is set of essays on everything from history to how to organize a Sacred Harp sing. Here is an interactive index to the 1991 edition of the traditional hymn book called, you guessed it, The Sacred Harp. Here's a special link to Manhattan Sacred Harp resources for jonmc who mentioned Sacred Harp before in the blue.
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