'The Lost Tonal Tribe'
November 6, 2006 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Awake, My Soul is a new documentary on Sacred Harp singing, an American musical tradition that's strange, beautiful, and very much alive. Previously discussed and beautifully explicated in this post.
posted by Miko (13 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, I love this stuff, great post! Not much to add that wasn't in the other post though.
posted by ernie at 11:38 AM on November 6, 2006

Wow, I love this stuff, great post! I don't have much to add that wasn't in the other post though.
posted by ernie at 11:38 AM on November 6, 2006

I love the Sacred Harp singing -- it's really, really fun to do if you are into choral music. Sort of Handel meets the Soggy Bottom Boys. We've gone to this festival for a number of years largely because there's a rousing shape note sing each morning.
posted by Toecutter at 11:48 AM on November 6, 2006

I listen to Allen Lomax's recordings of Sacred Harp music almost every day. Beautiful, powerful, emotional stuff.

I wonder if any popular ethnomusicologists have ever drawn on the similarities (both vocal and structural) between Sacred Harp and traditional Native American Powwow singing.

Thanks for the heads-up on this, Miko. I'll definately be seeking it out.
posted by Chrischris at 11:54 AM on November 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

Oh -- and there are some cool archival recordings. Great stuff. And here is where you can get a copy of the Sacred Harp itself.
posted by Toecutter at 11:57 AM on November 6, 2006

This is excellent news. Thanks!
posted by OmieWise at 12:02 PM on November 6, 2006

Anyone else able to read shape notes but not regular notes?
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:03 PM on November 6, 2006

WOO! Thanks Miko! I am so excited!
posted by mrs.pants at 12:09 PM on November 6, 2006

Love it.
posted by The White Hat at 12:18 PM on November 6, 2006

Chrischris, there was some work done a couple years ago teasing out the explicit connections to adaptations in Cherokee music -
Heth, Charlotte. 1992. Cherokee Hymn Singing in Oklahoma. Festival of American Folklife :95-97. as well as here and here. Somewhere tucked into the back of my Harp is a copy of New Britain with the words written in Cherokee.
posted by nonane at 1:42 PM on November 6, 2006

Thanks Miko! Having been exposed to this wonderful music while growing up in northeastern Alabama, I'm so happy to see others still singing, enjoying, embracing and discovering it!
posted by Just Ask, Just Tell at 3:02 PM on November 6, 2006

You know, it's interesting how Sacred Harp singing done by professional choral groups is so much less satisfying than the Sacred Harp recordings of actual congregations. For instance, the professional singers heard on the album "Rivers of Delight," and the Anonymous 4 CD of Sacred Harp tunes are kind of de-natured and bland. This tells me that the music itself is only part of the story. One of the things that makes Sacred Harp "field" recordings so moving is their ragged quality, the sound of elderly voices among the younger voices, and the squeaky, creaky, "weird America" texture. The singers in the field and archival recordings also believe the lyrics -- a not inconsiderable thing.
posted by Faze at 10:02 AM on November 7, 2006

Nonane, not only is Sacred Harp music tied strongly to Cherokee (and presumably other First Nation tribes) music; but also the music of many Pacific Island nations (particularly Micronesia and that region. For some proof, and a little sample, I suggest you pick up the soundtrack to the Terrance Malick film The Thin Red Line.
posted by cerulgalactus at 2:19 AM on November 8, 2006

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