American Shapenote Singing
Starting in October 2018, Prof. Juniper Hill will lead an ensemble of American shapenote singing. We will sing from the Sacred Harp, a repertoire of American choral music dating from the 1500s to the present, which is printed using a special shaped note system of notation that makes it easier for lay persons without musical training to read music. This four-part a cappella music includes energetic fugues, riveting anthems, sublime hymns, and haunting modes. Listen to examples from the Cork Sacred Harp singing community, which was started by Professor Hill in 2009. The enthusiasm, passion, high volume, democratic values, and rich spectrum of trained and untrained voices with which this repertoire is sung make Sacred Harp singing a powerful communal musical and spiritual experience. Sacred Harp singing has long survived as a participatory folk tradition in the US South, and has in recent decades enjoyed a revival across the US and expansion to Europe. The ensemble is open to students, staff, and community members. No previous vocal training is required.