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Monday, November 7, 2011

The Shape

Paul was reading me something last night about shape note singing. It's a type of musical instruction where each note of the scale has it's own shape, and it's supposed to make learning how to make reading music easier.

It was an early type of religious music sung by pilgrims in revival era New England. But as religous fervor lagged in the godless north, the practice moved southward. It was used to make choral participation accessible to everybody in the community. This led to the formation of Sacred Harp groups, America's original participatory singing society.

Singers sit in a square, all facing the middle. It's always a cappella. And it lacks, shall we say, the more complex subtleties of other religious/classical singing. Namely: dynamics do not exist. It is always as loud as possible.

Personally, I think this is pretty awesome! It looks like fun to sing, a style of music that's made for the joy of blasting out a killer harmony, and not necessarily made for joy of the listener.
As a kid (and still to this day) the only part of church I enjoyed was singing the hymns. This is pretty compelling to me. There's actually a lot of opportunities to join in in Western MA. Maybe if I work up the nerve!

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