Note: Now that the Internet is usually the preferred choice for information and music, the original organization of this guide into separate chapters for "Internet Resources" vs. hard resources such as printed books and CDs is anachronistic. Currently some major resources on the Internet, such as important digitized tunebooks, are listed in other chapters of this guide rather than this one, so it is important to check multiple chapters.
Note: The first two websites described below are good places to start learning about the world of Sacred Harp and related shape-note music. Both sites should be consulted, because each presents much worthy and nonoverlapping material.
Note: Webpages primarily devoted to regional singing schedules are listed in chapter 3.
Sacred Harp Singing by Professor David Warren Steel at the University of Mississippi Department of Music. This resource is actively maintained by Prof. Steel, a foremost authority on early American psalmody and the Sacred Harp tradition. It includes the following important resources:
Of particular value are Prof. Steel's hyperlinks to tremendous music resources on the WWW, to be found by clicking on "-Warren Steel" to get his own homepage. Note that there is no "e" at the end of his frequently misspelled last name.
Sacred Harp Singing (fasola.org), developed initially by Keith Willard and revamped and managed by Chris Thorman, is currently under the auspices of the Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association. This website provides access to many important resources and has the following main sections:
The Sacred Harp Online Index by Chris Thorman. This important online resource is an integrated set of indices of all lyrics, words, phrases, titles, page numbers, poets, composers, and meters in the The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition. All of the indices are hyper-linked with the song lyrics and vice-versa." For example, one can look up a word in the concordance, find a list of songs using the word, and then click on the name of a listed song to reveal the complete lyrics and information of that song. There is also a list of the 200 most common words in the tunebook. This series of indices is reached through Fasola.org. This Web resource duplicates Mr. Thorman's printed Sacred Harp Concordance, which can be ordered from lulu.com for $8.27 plus shipping.
Comparison Tune Index Between the 1991 Denson Revision and the 2012 Cooper Revision by Gaylon Powell, assisted by Robert Vaughn, Karen Willard, and Berkley Moore. This highly useful index compares the tunes that are found in both the 1991 "Denson" Edition and the 2012 Cooper Edition. The main comparison is with respect to page numbers; in addition, any differences in the tune (tenor part) are noted. (The alto part is different between the books for most songs and therefore is not notated.) Tunes which appear in one but not the other book are also listed.
Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings. The minutes of singings from The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition from 1995 through the year before the current one have been compiled electronically by Shelbie Sheppard, Pam Nunn, Carolyn Deacy, Chris Thorman, Keith Willard, David Ivey, Judy Caudle, and others. One can browse the full directory or search by song number or full names of singers. Song numbers are hyperlinked to the title and lyrics. An added feature (to be used only if really needed) is downloadable zipped PDF files of the Sacred Harp Minutes Online Edition, which includes the Minutes, Directory of Singings, and Deaths sections of the annual printed minutes books.
FaSoLa Minutes app for iOS devices (iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch), and FaSoLa Minutes app for Android devices enable one to access this information from one's smart phone. See description in chapter 2.
Shape Note Bibliography, compiled by John Bealle. Extensively expanded in 1998, this is an impressive and useful guide to books, journal articles and other materials on shape note singing through 1998, compiled by an historian/folklorist/sociologist who has sung Sacred Harp music for decades. The listings are classified under the following headings: bibliographic sources, concepts, culture groups, geographic regions, influences, musical forms, tunebook compilers, and tunebooks.
Shape Note Recordings Index, compiled by Berkley Moore. This very useful resource, although last updated in 2012, lists essentially every audio recording of Sacred Harp and Sacred Harp-style music that is or has recently been in print and distributed to the public, including field recordings and performances by amateur and professional groups. Many recordings of English West Gallery music are also listed. The index consists of two sections: (1) an index of tunes, which lists all albums in which each tune is found, and (2) an index of albums which lists all tunes on each album.
Sacred Harp Memories compiled by R. Ryan. Texas Sacred Harp Singer Ron Ryan has created a growing online repository of historical materials generally not found elsewhere -- documents, audio, and video -- related to Sacred Harp singing (both Denson and Cooper books, but mostly Denson). The purpose is to preserve for posterity materials and memorabilia that were produced mainly by singers themselves and that might be eventually lost otherwise. The collection currently includes many audio files derived from cassette tapes of singings from the 1960s through the 1990s, various singer-produced videos and photos of singings, minutes of singings, a 1944 booklet published for the Sacred Harp Centennial Celebration, a 1953 appreciation of George Pullen Jackson, and more. Most or all of the videos of Sacred Harp singings are on in the Fasola album on Vimeo.com, where thumbnail still images are presented.
Shape-Note Pages of Ishmael the Fiddler, aka F. Ishmael J. M. Stefanov-Wagner. Ishmael the Fiddler has several informative pages on his Web site at MIT. One is entitled Shape-Note Historical Background, and explains the history of the shapes in shape-note singing. It has informative photos of pages from the Bay Psalme Book, John Tufts's Introduction to the Singing of Psalm-Tunes, and Andrew Law's Musical Primer.
Chronological Index of The Sacred Harp (1991 Edition) compiled by Duncan Vinson. This page, now on the Fasola.org website, lists the tunes (page numbers only) in the order of the date of the composition of the music, as published in the tunebook. Mr. Vinson was an ethnomusicology student at Brown University.
"Sacred Harp Singing School Workbook" and audio files by David I. Lee and Karen E. Willard, July 2005 edition. David Lee of Hoboken, GA and Karen Willard of Seattle, WA collaborated to produce an outstanding 45-page booklet with 27 audio files, for teaching the rudiments of music written in the fa-sol-la-mi four-shape notation and for singing Sacred Harp music. It is ideal for potential singers who have not attended an actual singing school or who are having trouble learning Sacred Harp singing. Karen Willard writes: "At the above website you'll see a PDF workbook for beginners that you can download and print out. Then depending upon whether you want MP3 files or the much larger .wav audio files, you can download the many examples that illustrate the workbook. The scales are repeated numerous times, both major scale and minor scale, in both a male voice and a female voice." This resource has helped many people without a strong musical background learn to sing.
A Primer on How to Lead Simple Common, Triple, and Compound-Time Songs for Denson Sacred Harp Singings, by members of the Pacific NW Sacred Harp Singers. This online PDF is a handout for a leading lesson conducted at the Pacific NW convention in 2012. Leading technique for each type of time signature is taught by the use of an annotated score of a typical song and a diagram of how the arm should move. How to lead partial measures at beginnings and ends are explained. This handout is very helpful to beginning leaders of Sacred Harp songs.
Modal studies of shape-note tunebooks (online) by David G. Jensen. Scholar and Sacred Harp singer David Jensen has analyzed the musical mode (Ionian, Dorian, Aeolian, etc.) and scale (pentatonic, hexatonic, or heptatonic) of each tune in The Sacred Harp (1991 Edition) and seven other 19th-century shape-note tunebooks. His analyses are published in two extensive online papers containing descriptions of the modes and tables of these tunes with their modes, vocal ranges, and meters. The analyses include multiple indices (tables) in which the tunes are sorted according to their tune name, mode, range, and meter. There are tables of fuging tunes and a glossary and short bibliography. Versions 2.1 of each paper have been expanded and updated. The two papers are as follows:
The Online Southern Harmony, by Harry Plantinga. This website, the brainchild of Prof. Plantinga of Wheaton College, has changed recently. One can download a PDF of William Walker's Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1854 edition) in which each song is accompanied by a scanned low-resolution image of the original score, the complete song text printed below in legible type, and tune attributions. There is an informative Introduction by Harry Eskew, the foremost authority on William Walker. There is a "Read Online" link to "25 Most Popular Hymns" and links to recordings that are apparently not yet linked. The MIDI files in previous versions of this site seem to be absent. This resource is in the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Wheaton College.
Practical Guides to Sacred Harp Singing by Virginia W. Ely and others. Ginnie Ely is a noted Boston-area shape-note singer who has had many years of experience in singing and leading Sacred Harp music in the North and South, in observing and participating in successful traditional practices at Southern singings, and in organizing the New England Sacred Harp Convention. These essays are found in Prof. Warren Steel's website at the URLs indicated below:
The Pitcher's Role in Sacred Harp Music by Raymond C. Hamrick with introduction by Ian Quinn. This article was originally published 1986 in the National Sacred Harp Newsletter and was the first comprehensive study of keying Sacred Harp music. Mr. Hamrick, a distinguished Sacred Harp singer and composer from Georgia, asked three accomplished Georgia singers about how they pitch music, and he wrote their answers, along with his own. An introduction by Ian Quinn was added in 2013. No great technical tips for this mysterious skill are provided, as good pitching seems to come from great familiarity with the music and some sense of pitch memory (memory of a good pitch for each song, not perfect pitch or the memory of standard pitches of the musical scale).
Miss Grace Notes' Advice on All Things Sacred Harp.. In the 1990s, the Chicago Sacred Harp Newsletter (no longer published) featured a column (written in the style of Miss Manners' column and books) providing advice to novice Northern Sacred Harpers on the proper etiquette of Sacred Harp singings. Although the identity of Miss Grace Notes is not disclosed, the advice reflects extensive knowledge of Southern Sacred Harp practices. Now Karen Willard has provided many of the columns on the Pacific Northwest Sacred Harp website "so that an entirely new crop of Sacred Harp singers may benefit from her wisdom and graciously imparted knowledge of Sacred Harp ways."
"The Sacred Harp as Experimental Composition," essay by Prof. Neely Bruce (PDF download). Prof. Bruce presented this paper at the first All-Ireland Sacred Harp Singing Convention at University College Cork in March 2011. While giving a background to Sacred Harp music to those unfamiliar with it, the paper goes further to present a fresh and interesting perspective on the music, emphasizing the novel aspects of its harmonic idiosyncrasies and spatial quality.
Sacred Harp tune listings organized by Pat Keating. Prof. Keating, a Sacred Harp singer, has created "for fun" some spreadsheets of tunes which should be useful to others. Current information includes the following:
Analyses of Sacred Harp tunes and texts by Will Fitzgerald. Mr. Fitzgerald, a Sacred Harp singer, prepared several analyses and posted them on his website. These include the following:
"Hoboken Style: Meaning and Change in Okefenokee Sacred Harp Singing," by Laurie Kay Sommers. This outstanding article in the peer-reviewed online journal Southern Spaces (of the Emory University Libraries) contains a scholarly essay, photos, 11 audio recordings, and 7 video recordings, all dealing with the Sacred Harp singing of the Okefenokee region of southeast George and northeast Florida, centering around the extended Lee family. The distinctive variant characteristics of Sacred Harp singing are presented and contrasted with Primitive Baptist lined-out hymn singing. The audio recordings come from various traditional sings (singings) in the area. The video recordings generally feature David I. Lee conducting a singing school and providing demonstrations at several sings. The essay has an excellent and probably unique presentation of the relation between Primitive Baptist subsects in the Okefenokee area and Sacred Harp singing, and on the recent hybridization of the singing style after the Lee family discovered and interacted extensively with the broader Sacred Harp community. There are extensive footnotes and a bibliography. Ms. Sommers is an independent scholar of folklore. (Note: This resource guide generally does not list journal articles about Sacred Harp singing, but this one is a worthy exception.)
Interviews of Mississippi Sacred Harp Singers. The University of Mississippi Libraries has online audio files of five interviews of four Mississippi Sacred Harp singers: Hugh Bill McGuire, Mark Davis, Deborah Dunn, and Anne Steel. The interviews were conducted in 2009-2010 by students participating in the Field School for Cultural Documentation sponsored by the North Mississippi Music Project. The interviews are in a streaming (RTSP) mp4 format that most up-to-date media players can open. (If problems, try the VLC player.) In addition to the audio files, there are extensive field notes and tape logs in PDF format.
Florida Memory Project of the State Library and Archives of Florida. Numerous online archived documents and audio recordings can be found by starting at the Shape Note Singing in Florida classroom. This page has links to many photos, audio files, and documents.
The Hymn Tune Index by Nicholas Temperley, assisted by Charles G. Manns, and Joseph Herl. The description by the publisher of the print version of The Hymn Tune Index states: "This unique reference is the first systematic guide to the history of the English-language hymn tune, as represented in printed sources from the earliest (Coverdale's Goostly Psalmes) to 1820. Using a simple numerical code to represent the first two lines of each melody, the book allows the reader to look up any of nearly 20,000 British and American hymn tunes without advance knowledge of the composer, name, or text. The online search engine can be used to query the Hymn Tune Index database for specific information, including tune name, incipit (beginning of melody), composer, and attribution, as well as hymn texts (first two lines). For example, one can find all listed tune(s) having a given incipit, all listed tunes by a given composer, or all listed tunes associated with a given text. Information on musical sources in which a given tune appeared can subsequently be obtained. " (The printed version is out of print.)
The Dictionary of North American Hymnology at Hymnary.org. The Dictionary of North American Hymnology is a comprehensive online master bibliography and index of hymn collections published in the United States and Canada from 1640 to 1978. Hymns from 4,875 collections are indexed by collection code, year the collection was published, first line, author/translator/adaptor, refrain, and title. Hymnals and collections of hymns are indexed by collection code, title, compiler/editor, and place-publisher-year of publication. [Note that the strict hymnological definition of "hymn" is the text or the words that are sung, not the tune.] The Sacred Harp is one of the hymnals indexed. Hymnary.org is a broad project of the Christian Classics Ethereal Library and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, to which the DNAH has been recently added. Hymnary.org also has author biographies from John Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology. This comprehensive database should be highly useful to those seriously interested in hymns.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College. This is an extensive resource of digitized books, audio files, and other electronic resources. The revised website makes browsing more difficult than before and best accessed by its search engine. For example, searching under "hymns" retrieves many old hymnals, but a more efficient search requires searching under more specific titles, authors, or composers.
Voices Across America, is a project of June Melton, who travels around the U.S. in search of musicians performing Christian music such as traditional hymns, gospel, spirituals, bluegrass, and Sacred Harp. There are now many interesting shape-note singing field recordings in the Sacred Harp category. For example, there are audio files from recent Chattahoochee (Georgia) and Minnesota Sacred Harp Conventions, a monthly singing at the Antioch Baptist Church in Ider, Alabama, a Harmonia Sacra singing in Indiana, several New Harp of Columbia singings in Tennessee, and songs from a shape-note singing school in Mississippi during which well-known songs were sung in the Choctaw (Indian) language. In addition, there are audio files of songs performed by several performing ensembles.
Audio recordings of Robert Stoddard and others on BostonSing.com. Mr. Stoddard digitally recorded many singings he attended, most but not all Sacred Harp singings. He placed MP3 files of many recorded songs (2010-2011) on his BostonSing.org website. His index lists all songs in the 1991 Sacred Harp with links to recordings on his site and on a few external sites. He has nearly achieved his goal of having recordings of every song in the book. The section of this website entitled "Vintage Sacred Harp Recordings" contains links to recordings of Georgia singings in the 1970s made mostly by Dan Brittain on cassettes and later converted to digital format by Mr. Stoddard.
Sacred Harp recordings of John Work in 1938 . The Library of Congress's American Memory Project has a section featuring audio files of six songs sung from the Cooper Sacred Harp in 1938 probably in Dothan or Ozark, Alabama and recorded by John Work. (Thanks to Will Fitzgerald for discovering these.)
Folksong recordings of John Quincy Wolf, Jr. Folklorist John Quincy Wolf, Jr. collected and recorded folksongs of the South and recorded over 60 Sacred Harp singings in northern Mississippi and Alabama in the 1960s. Some of his collections are maintained by Lyon College in Arkansas. Many field recordings were donated in 2012 by his daughter to the University of Mississippi library.
"Amazing Grace" website of the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress launched in 2007 an extensive website devoted to the history of the most famous hymn sung to a tune with shape-note origins, "Amazing Grace." The site features the Chasanoff/Elozua Amazing Grace Collection of published recordings of the hymn by various musicians. It is a joint venture of several divisions of the Library as well as the American Folklife Center. Of interest to shape-note singers are several early and unpublished recordings. These include the earliest known (1922) recording of "New Britain" by the Original Sacred Harp Choir, a 1929 recording by the Allison Sacred Harp Singers using the tune "Jewett," a previously unavailable 1942 recording of "New Britain" by Alan Lomax and George Pullen Jackson at the Alabama Sacred Harp Convention, and a 1986 recording of "New Britain" by the Boston Camerata (from a live concert). Of further interest is a 1942 interview by Alan Lomax of the dynamic Sacred Harp great Paine Denson, in which he praises the authenticity of the music in The Sacred Harp and derides new harmonizations of "Amazing Grace/New Britain" and "The Promised Land." The website also has a useful timeline and several examples of early printed versions of "Amazing Grace" (see image file section below).
Voice-parts of Sacred Harp songs sung by "robots" on the Sacred Harp Bremen [Germany] website. This website mostly in the German language has a remarkable teaching resource created by Harald Grundner and Ulrike Tietjen: Under the heading Lieder (songs), there are links to computer-generated audio files for each voice part of each song in The Sacred Harp 1991 Edition. One can listen separately to each computer-generated voice part -- treble (labeled Sopran), treble an octave lower, alto, tenor, bass) and all four (or three) parts together -- with words of the first verse. The parts are pleasantly "sung" by a computer with what sounds like a British accent. Each voice part is heard not in isolation but with the other parts audible softly in the background. An image of the score of the featured song is visible below the buttons for the audio files. For some songs, there are also links to YouTube videos of the featured song sung by real people at various singings in Europe and the UK. This should be a useful resource for learning voice parts of songs of interest.
Songs from The Christian Harmony sung by robots. Ulrike Tietjen and Harald Grundner of the Bremen (Germany) Sacred Harp singers have created a site similar to the one described immediately above for learning voice parts of all 672 songs from the Christian Harmony 2010 Edition. The descriptive text is in English and includes the following: "You can listen to them, but do not expect realistic sound. Do not even expect real singers; you will hear robots singing. They sound sterile and artificial. They don't know what "accent" is and sing too high in general. But they hit the right notes most of the time... and they allow you to listen to individual parts (Treble, Alto, Tenor, Bass) and learn them."
Songs from The Shenandoah Harmony sung by robots. Ulrike Tietjen and Harald Grundner of the Bremen (Germany) Sacred Harp singers have created a site similar to the two described immediately above for learning voice parts of the 489 songs from the Shenandoah Harmony. The site is similar to the two others described immediately above for The Sacred Harp and Christian Harmony. This should be an excellent resource for learning to sing from this tunebook.
"Sacred Harp.mus": Audio files of songs in The Sacred Harp and other shape-note tunebooks prepared by Terre Schill. As described by Ms. Schill, "This page offers audio .mus files of songs in the 1991 Revision and Cooper book of The Sacred Harp [and now Southern Harmony, Christian Harmony (Alabama and North Carolina editions), New Harp of Columbia, and Harmonia Sacra]. These files are not intended to be an entirely realistic representation of Sacred Harp songs as sung, but rather to be useful to singers in learning new songs, or new parts to already-familiar songs." However, the Myriad Plug-In recommended by Ms. Schill when the site was developed years ago has been discontinued, and the .mus files have been replaced by .html files with the song lyrics.
Will Fitzgerald has created a webpage linking the lyrics of songs in the 1991 Edition compiled by Chris Thorman on the fasola.org site with the music files on Sacred Harp.mus.
Music from The American Vocalist website, compiled by John Kay. The American Vocalist was published in Boston in 1848-49 by D.H. Mansfield. It contains many early 19th century singing school tunes, published in standard round notation, and is long out of print. John Kay has an ongoing project to post online MIDI files and scanned pages for all songs in the book. He is also adding MIDI files and scans from other out of print tunebooks as well. Note: The website, originally on Geocities, is now archived and takes time to open on a browser. Also note: Scans of the entire tunebook are now available on Google Books.
"The Good Old Way": MIDI files of shape-note hymns/songs prepared by Michael Moore. Mr. Moore, of Cedar Falls, Iowa, has generated synthesizer/instrumental performances of many shape note tunes from The Sacred Harp (1991 and Cooper Editions), The Southern Harmony, Christian Harmony (1873), The Harmonia Sacra, The Easy Instructor (1818), Ingall's The Christian Harmony (1805), Wyeth's Repository Part 2 (1820), tunes by Stephen Jenks, Methodist Harmonist (1822), and more. He has placed these MIDI files online on his home page. He writes, "Please keep in mind that midis in no way come close to the beauty apparent in these tunes when a whole room full of people sing them with love and gusto." Having said that, listening to these MIDIs can be moving and enlightening, because the songs sound refreshingly different when "performed" with instrumental tones rather than voices and words in a relatively peaceful and quiet style. Furthermore, these MIDIs can introduce singers to unfamiliar but beautiful shape-note tunes. Note: The website, originally on Geocities, is now archived and takes time to open on a browser.
"The Other Old Way" is another collection of MIDI files prepared by Michael Moore. It features tunes from mainstream books of compilers and composers like Lowell Mason, Thomas Hastings, William Batchelder Bradbury, Luther Orlando Emerson, and George Root. Mr. Moore writes: "Many of these writers' tunes really were written for beginners and sound somewhat ordinary, but quite a few have very interesting ideas and sounds." Note: The website, originally on Geocities, is now archived and takes time to open on a browser.
Apple's iTunes Music Store. Many Sacred Harp songs found on CDs described elsewhere in this guide are currently available for download as MP3 files for $0.99 per song, and several entire albums are available for $9.99. Many of the recent commercial recordings listed in this guide are available on iTunes. To see what is available, one needs to download the free iTunes software (for PC or Mac) from http://www.apple.com/itunes and then search the database with this software.
The Hesperian Harp: a Collection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes, Odes and Anthems by William Hauser, 1848, images compiled by Berkley Moore. The Hesperian Harp is one of the most important 19th century tunebooks. As Berkley Moore writes, it "is the largest and arguably the best of the shape-note tune books of the Nineteenth Century." The songs are written in the four-shape fasola notation, are stylistically similar to those found in The Sacred Harp, and include many composed by Hauser himself. Berkley Moore has scanned all 552 pages of this tunebook including the Preface and Indices. Scanned images from this tunebook are also accessible on IMSLP.
A Supplement to the Kentucky Harmony by Ananias Davisson, Third Edition 1825, songs retypeset by Robert Stoddard. The 150-page Supplement to the Kentucky Harmony is an historically important tunebook, because unlike The Kentucky Harmony, which is the first truly Southern shapenote tunebook, it included "new" and beautiful harmonized tunes of folk origin, including revival tunes. The revised website is described by Berkley Moore: "The book was originally copied by Hans Bayer and I then acquired photocopies of the entire book from Hans' father, the most thoughtful John Bayer, allowing me to place all the music pages on this site. Currently, however, the Bayers' files have been replaced by those of Robert Stoddard who has reset the files in a more legible a PDF format that corrects errors in Davisson's original printed versions, that uses modern American English spelling, and that in some cases employs the more common variant of the poetry (lyrics). Also you can view the book as one continuous PDF file at Robert Stoddard's website Supplement to Kentucky Harmony."
A Supplement to the Kentucky Harmony, retypeset by Robert Stoddard. Mr. Stoddard has completely reset the entire Supplement with modern legible scores and texts (generated by Lilypond) with correction of obvious errors in the original. His high quality working draft of all of the book is found as a PDF (3.3 MB) on his website under the subtitle SupplKtHarmony.
Websites of the Library of Congress's American Memory Project containing images of all pages of important early American shape-note tunebooks:
Southern and Western Pocket Harmonist, Intended as An Appendix to the Southern Harmony, compiled by William Walker (1845) digitized images. This small (pocket-sized) book has around 150 tunes in three-part harmony and four-shape notation. The PDF file of an 1860 printing is on the archives of the Princeton Theological Seminary (8.25 MB) and also on Robert Stoddard's Bostonsing website (44 MB and larger images there, scanned by John and Hans Bayer).
Scans of early American tunebooks on the IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library. The International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) has a huge yet growing wiki-like public-domain virtual music library. It has complete scans of the original editions of several New England tunebooks (written in round notes). As reported by David Wright, the easiest way to browse is by composer name, by which one can find the following tunebooks:
The American Vocalist (Revised Edition, 1849) compiled by D. H. Mansfield. Scans of the complete tunebook (with scores in round rather than shaped notes) are freely available on Google Books.
Columbian Repository of Sacred Harmony (1803) compiled by Samuel Holyoke. A scan of of this ~500-page New England tunebook containing Rudiments and tunes written in round notes is available on Archive.org.
Allgemein Nützliche Choral-Music (1816, in German) compiled by Joseph Funk of Harrisonburg, VA. Erin Fulton reports that the Mennonite Library and Archives scanned and uploaded their copy of this shape-note tunebook, which has Rudiments, song lyrics, etc. written in German.
Sounding Spirit Digital Library is a research project and lab devoted to high-quality digitization at over 1200 books of vernacular sacred music from the US South published between 1850 and 1925. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), it is based at the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship and has additional university partners. The editorial leaders are Jesse P. Karlsberg, Erin Fulton, and Meredith Doster. The works chosen for digitization are significant but forgotten or inaccessible. They come from many genres and traditions, such as Black and White gospel songs, spirituals, Native hymnody, and shape-note singing traditions. The project also is publishing scholarly annotated facsimile editions of selected works in both digital and print formats, in collaboration with the University of North Carolina Press. The images can be accessed using Readux, a novel platform that enables interactive annotation as well as reading. Currently the available works of interest to Sacred Harp singers include digital volumes of The Hesperian Harp shape-note tunebook by William Hauser and an early edition of The Primitive Hymns by Benjamin Lloyd, and both digital and print editions of The Original Sacred Harp (1911) (Centennial edition produced and edited by Karlsberg).
The ALTA Digital Library of the American Theological Library Association has scanned images of many early American tunebooks and hymnals from the Benson Collection of Hymnals and Hymnology at the Princeton Theological Seminary and from the Bowld Music Library of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. While most of the scanned books were published in 1840-1900 and have the "better-music" style of tunes, presented with round notes, four shaped notes, or seven shaped notes, there are interesting earlier tunebooks (with or without shaped notes), including some that are not widely known. The reader is advised to browse through the available scans to find books of one's particular interest. To find these tunebooks, search ATLA under the Subject of Tune-books (not Shape note hymnals), which will bring up around 3613 items. The top ~640 items will be scans of complete tunebooks, while the remaining ~3000 or so will be individual pages from seven unidentified shaped-note tunebooks and hymnals from the Bowld Music Library. Although these seven tunebooks were previously presented in ATLA as scans of complete identified tunebooks, a revised and thoughtless redesign of this collection appears to have only single-page images identified by tune name but disconnected from their sources. The previous design listed the seven tunebooks in the Bowld Music Library as follows:
Early American tunebooks newly retypeset by Robert Stoddard. Mr. Stoddard has been using the Lilypond program to produce more legible and singable scores of songs from several tunebooks. He writes: "These are "pretty good drafts" -- certainly not final, but I believe they are accurate and readable."
The Trumpet, online periodical of new songs, edited by Will Fitzgerald, Thomas Malone, R.L. Vaughn, and Rachel Wells Hall, with musical typesetting by James Nelson Gingerich. Modeled after a newspaper called "The Organ" published by B.F. White in the mid-19th century, The Trumpet was launched in 2011 for the online publication of new songs/tunes in the Sacred Harp style, along with feedback about the tunes from singers, audio files of some of the songs, and articles and historical material about Sacred Harp. The editors write: "These songs will be enjoyed best at practice singings, house/kitchen/porch singings, or night singings where people gather to enjoy hearing new music." Three issues per year were published through Sept. 2015, with each issue containing up to 12-14 new tunes formatted as PDFs that can be printed and sung. The first four years were a rousing success, but publication appears to have stopped after Sept. 2015. The issues are available as downloadable PDFs online. The domain name for this site recently changed from singthetrumpet.com to singthetrumpet.wordpress.com.
New Compositions in the Style of the Sacred Harp, compiled by Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg. The front page states: "This website features new tunes, written in the style of the Sacred Harp, by several composers from the Northeastern and Northwestern United States. Through this website, we hope to share our music with other interested singers, and to explore and contribute to the understanding of Sacred Harp composition." The site includes pdf scores by several very active and talented composers and singers. The website includes mp3 audio files of many of the songs sung by Sacred Harp and Christian Harmony singers, enabling one to hear how they really sound.
The Minnesota Harmony Project. This site is a place where shape note songwriters from Minnesota (and beyond) can put pdf files of their scores for evaluation and singing by the shapenote singing community. The site also has retypeset scores of hard-to-find early American music, including some by William Billings.
New Harmony Facebook Group, "for Sacred Harp- and other shape note-style composers to be able to have song-writing discussions, post songs and get feedback."
Live Streaming of "The Sacred Harp Hour" weekly radio program. "The Sacred Harp Hour" is a half-hour radio program which has aired each Sunday morning since 1955 on WCPC, a Christian radio station serving the Tupelo, Mississippi area. Elene Stovall write: "The program is now live streaming starting at 8 am Central Time each Sunday.... Currently and in the past they have played old recordings, some dating back to the 1960's, mostly consisting of recordings from West Alabama/North Mississippi singers." The program schedule of WCPC is posted on the Wilkins Radio website. For live streaming, click here. Ms. Stovall writes further: "We would love to add new recordings to the program. If you would like to sponsor a program and have a recording of Sacred Harp played on a pacific Sunday you can send it to the address listed below. The cost/donation for one Sunday airing is $20.00. We have several supporters of the program, but welcome others. Each Sunday they announce singings and the sponsor for the day. Recordings and donations can be mailed to: The Sacred Harp Hour, P.O. Box 43922, Birmingham, AL 35243." If you have a question or comment, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
NPR program "Sacred Harp Singers," 1979. Cleve Callison, then of WLRH Public Radio, Huntsville, AL, produced an award-winning documentary of close to one hour in length on Sacred Harp singing which was aired on National Public Radio's "Options" series in October, 1979. Twenty-five years later he has recently placed on the Web MP3 files of all segments of this program for listening over the Internet. The program includes the singing of 22 songs and interviews of singers at the 1978 United Sacred Harp Convention in Arab, AL, and the 1979 Holly Springs Singing in Bremen, GA. Interviewed are: Hugh McGraw of the Sacred Harp Publishing Co., author Buell Cobb, Mack Wootten, Lisa Wootten, Carl Hughes and others. The remarks of Mack Wootten about the fellowship and joy of singing are particularly memorable. Currently each of 46 segments must be downloaded separately.
South Georgia Folklife Collection radio and video archives on Sacred Harp. Laurie Kay Sommers, folklorist of Valdosta State University, extensively documented Sacred Harp traditions in southeast Georgia, particularly the community and family singing traditions of the Lee family of Hoboken in the Okefenokee area. The online archives contain oral interviews, field notes, video recordings, audio recordings, correspondence, and photographs. An online exhibit has links to three interesting videos:
There are also links to brief radio programs on Sacred Harp singing in the area of Hoboken, Georgia aired on Georgia Public Radio in 1998 and 2000.
Alabama State Council on the Arts Radio Series. The website features audio files of many "Alabama Arts" radio programs, each 28.5 minutes long. The files are in MP3 format, with some also in the smaller WMA format for faster downloads. Of interest to Sacred Harp singers are the following programs:
Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp singing on New York city radio . An archived audio file of a radio program (called Airborne Event with Dan Bodah) on April 17, 2002 on WFMU-FM (New York City area) has three hours of spirited singing from the 2002 Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp Convention, along with six interviews with singers including Tim Eriksen, Peter Irvine, Cath Oss, and Richard DeLong.
Fasola.org hosts two distinct mailing lists (now Google groups) for shape-note music singers and enthusiasts as well as scholars and performing artists. Both are moderated lists, and each serves a different purpose. Extensive information on both lists may be found at the Fasola Mailing Lists webpage. NOTE: The postings to both of these mailing lists have declined recently, as more singers prefer to post on the Sacred Harp Friends Facebook Group and regional Facebook pages, to the dismay of some singers who refuse to subscribe to Facebook.
There are several ways to subscribe to these lists -- by e-mail, the Google Groups Web interface, or Fasola.org, all explained in detail on the Fasola List webpage. The simplest way is to just send an email message to one of these addresses: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You'll receive a confirmation request e-mail (to prove your identity)--you should reply to the confirmation request from the same e-mail address you used to subscribe. Then wait for a second confirmation that you have been added.
Fasola-Questions Googlegroup. This is place for members of the general public to ask questions about Sacred Harp music, hymns, history, traditions, resources, or any other questions not answered on the Sacred Harp Singing website at http://fasola.org/. No membership is required to post a question. One simply sends an e-mail with a question to fasola-questions at googlegroups dot com. Sacred Harp singers expert in various aspects of the subject will receive the posted questions and will hopefully reply.
Fasola Songwriters Google Group. A group discussing shape note composition in the four-shape style of the Sacred Harp tradition. Examples of topics include discussion of mechanical aspects of specific songs, the sources of inspiration for song writing, Sacred Harp style "rules", reviews of tunes, etc. The group was started in September 2010 by Robert Vaughn of Mount Enterprise, TX. It quickly became a lively group, with many postings by active composers of Sacred Harp style music.
Region-specific e-mail lists. Several e-mail listings have been set up for announcements and discussion regarding singing in a particular region. Only subscribers can post to these lists or, for some lists, access archives.
Note: Many or most active Sacred Harp communities have set up Facebook pages to supplement or replace their e-mail lists and Websites. This guide lists most of these in chapter 3. However, organizers of singing groups should be aware that some singers, particularly older ones, refuse to join Facebook out of valid privacy and security concerns. Thus, it is important to announce singings by e-mail lists and websites rather than only on Facebook.