Today we drove with friends Carol and David, Ginny and Karl into Portland to attend an official sacred harp singing convention. We got in on only one session of the weekend-long event.
About a year ago I posted pictures and an audio link that illustrated sacred harp singing with us mostly novices here in our living room. Here’s a taste of today’s singing:
I had to just pick a song to capture and hope it was a good representation. This happens to be a song I know and actually recorded it for one of Mauri’s and my projects. It doesn’t show the enthusiasm felt in the room like many of the other songs. I was amazed by how many singers had memorized basically the entire book. Each song is led from the center (as you saw) by a different director. Did you notice that the first time through each part sang the shapes of their notes: fa, sol, la, mi? Then the words. Here’s what the music looks like to the song I videoed.
We were almost too fascinated to sing!
I probably don’t consider myself a hard-core fan of shape-note singing, but an afternoon of it with friends will certainly be remembered as a highlight.