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The Long Island Traditional Music Association

"giving you that old song and dance"

Shape Note Singing

Join use every third Sunday at Bethany Presbyterian Church, Huntington Station

Sacred Harp singing, also known as shaped note singing, is an a capella form of singing that began in New England. Early in America's history, there were tune books containing just the music and there were word books containing only the poetry written by people such as Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley. People would sing the poetry using any tune that had a matching meter. Harmony was an impromptu thing before the Singing Masters began to write down the parts.

Towns and parishes would hire an itinerant singing master to teach music, and he would bring with him music that he had written or that he had collected, often in a book that he had published (which he would sell).

Musically uneducated people learned to sing by ear and taught the tunes to each other using a system of syllables representing the different pitches. In England, this Fa-Sol-La-Mi method of solfage existed before our forefathers came to America

The "shape-note" musical notation was invented in order to facilitate the teaching of written music. This system of music notation uses standard ledger lines and spaces in which the degrees of the scale are identified by a sequence of differently-shaped note heads associated with the sung syllables. Writing down the Fa Sol La Mi syllables as shapes provided a big help in teaching the people to see what they already knew in their heads.

for more information, contact Martha 631-325-8272 or Terry 718-740-3808

There are also excellent informational resources at other sites on the web. Visit Sacred Harp Singing or the Fasola Home Page for more information and even more links to the Sacred Harp experience.