When did shape note music first appear?

I think the answer may involve the Shaker religion.

2 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
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    Shape-note singing combines Guido's solfege system with a symbolic notation that facilitates solmization without needing to actually read the music. While Guido would point to parts of his hand to refer to different notes of the scale, and other later solfege systems use actual hand signs for the scale degrees, shape-note singing relies on reading, so that text can be sung along with the music. Shape-note singing originated in England, where singing schools used anglicized versions of Guido's scale. Guido's hexachord: ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la. English Tonic Sol-Fa: doh, ray, me fah, soh, lah, te. The shape-note tradition was brought over to the American colonies, where it took root and flourished. The tradition became a mainstay of the Primitive Baptist church, with its focus on unadorned, anti-liturgical worship, and individualism in one's relationship with God. According to this view, there are no instruments other than the voice necessary for praising God. Shape-note singing almost never uses accompanying instruments, although foot stomping is commonly seen in "singings". The singing is heartfelt, powerful, soulful, energetic, loud, and primitive. The harmony is different from most mainstream classical music. It frequently centers around the pentatonic scale and uses open fifths and unresolved sus chords as often as it uses triads. There is also a distinctive style of ornamentation. The tradition is maintained today in many parts of the South and in a few other places (like Boston, the home of William Billings). While it has largely been separated from worship (most churches use more modern hymnals now), it is still an evolving tradition, with new tunes added to some hymnals with each new edition. Some shape-note traditions include Christian Harmony, Southern Harmony, Shakers, and Sacred Harp. Sacred Harp singing can be seen in the movie Cold Mountain.

    Source(s): My friend Jonathon is a Sacred-Harp fanatic and took me to a singing! It's definitely worth experiencing and participating in it, just to see what it's like. www.fasola.org
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I believe that musical notation was developed in Medival Europe during the High Middle Ages. You might want to look up a man named Guido of Arrezo, as he is often regarded as the inventor of musical (staff) notation and is responsible for developing the diatonic ("do-re-mi...") scale.

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