Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

Sacred Harp Singers Striking Their Note

The New York Times had an article in its “Escapes” section about Sacred Harp Singing Conventions–more proof that people are looking for more than just a tan when they vacation.

The Times describes Sacred Harp, or sharp-note music as “Gregorian chant meets bluegrass.” (When you listen to some of the pieces here, you’ll hear how perfect that description is.)


The sharp-note notation style employs geometric shapes for notes (instead of dots on a staff) since back in the 1700s, this style of church music was sung by the musically untrained. The form’s roots go back at least to Colonial New England, or England before that. The chants then moved into the rural American South, the state of Georgia especially.

Today, amateur singers of all stripes and religious affiliations(ranging from sweet elderly people to ’60s-folk-music lovers to urban hipsters), most with no prior musical training, are drawn to Sacred Harp’s powerfully sacred sound are practicing in weekly groups, even traveling to singing conventions to experience an intensified uplift. “It’s all about fellowship–and the music, of course,” 76-year-old Jeff Sheppard tells the Times. He’s president of the Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association.

Please have a listen to this Sacred Harp album on Amazon. If you like Shaker melodies and American folk, you’ll find it appealing. Click on the links above to find a group near you.

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posted April 24, 2007 at 6:05 pm

FYI, it’s shape-note (not sharp-). 😉

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