Harpeth Valley Sacred Harp Singers

Old time music from the time when everyone was allowed to sing and enjoyed doing it


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A Revision is coming.

Posted on October 24, 2018 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The Board of Directors of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company unanimously approved a revision of The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition. David Ivey has agreed to serve as the chair of the Music Committee. This decision builds on discussions with members of the singing community and among the board over the last several years. We anticipate that the revision process will take 4–5 years. The board is grateful to David for agreeing to take on this role and looks forward to sharing information with the community throughout the revision process.


Mike Hinton


Sacred Harp Publishing Company


The Board of Directors of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company unanimously approved a revision of The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition on October 13th. This decision builds on discussions with members of the singing community and among the board over the last several years. We anticipate that the revision process will take 4–5 years. The board looks forward to sharing information with the community throughout the revision process.

Inputs to the Music-Revision Committee, including recommendations of music to consider, may be sent to:

Music Committee
P.O. Box 4243
Huntsville, AL 35815


Breakin Up Spring

Posted on February 6, 2017 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Check Out NOTSBA for info on Breaking Up Wintet a fun music filled retreat in Lebenon TN. We will sing Sunday morning Sacred Harp on March 5 around 10:30 am

a little bit of TN musical history

Posted on June 30, 2015 at 10:05 PM Comments comments (22)

I'm emailing you on behalf of Grinder's Switch Foundation of middle TN/Hickman County, TN. We recognize that music, art, and the humanities are gifted to humans regardless of ethnicity, circumstances, or other factors. We hope to preserve cultural art and recognize that art, music and the humanities emanate into our societies. We not only hope to preserve the history, heritage, culture, and arts of middle Tennessee, but to call attention to the fact that art and music bloom and are fostered in communities of all sizes, no matter where they are. We have created a web documentary encompassing this idea and hope to share it across our nation. Let us not forget to remember the artists, regardless of their fame or lack thereof. A link is included in this email. Please share on your social media sites. Let me know if you will do this. Thank you so much for your time!



Lyndsay Millo, Intern






Message ID: 270448596


article about Jackson

Posted on May 16, 2014 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

A nice report on the great first-time singing in Jackson, TN on April 26.  (Also a nice plug in there for the upcoming Memphis singing on May 10!)

Matt Bell


Emily Boswell

Posted on August 23, 2013 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I received sad news today.

Emily Hall Boswell, 86, died Wednesday, August 21, 2013 in Oxford, Mississippi.
Born in Winter Haven, Florida, Mrs. Boswell grew up in Gurley, Alabama. She moved to Nashville, TN where she met and married her husband, folklorist and English professor George W. Boswell. Mrs. Boswell was a past-president of the Mississippi Folklore Society, a founding member of the Oxford Music Club, and a member of Oxford Church of Christ. She was well loved as a Sacred Harp singer in Oxford and in Nashville; she never led the class, but had a sweet treble voice and a sweet disposition.
A graveside service will be held Friday, August 23, 2013, 11:00 a.m. at St. Peter's Cemetery in Oxford.
Memorials may be made to the charity of the giver’s choice.
Online condolences may be left at www.colemanfuneralhome.com

Warren Steel                     mudws@olemiss.edu
Professor of Music       University of Mississippi

Buffalo River Review 2nd article

Posted on November 19, 2011 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (1)


  This is the second of two articles on the traditions and music of The Sacred Harp. Here is attempted a brief history of the notation which developed into shaped notes and, eventually, the system used in The Sacred Harp.

  Everybody knows the little song from The Sound of Music which begins, “Doe, a deer, a female deer. Ray, a drop of golden sun. Me, a name I call myself,...” And you can remember that as the song progresses, it becomes increasingly evident that it is not really speaking of a doe, but of do, the first note of the song, and re, the note a step higher than do, and so on. By the end of the song, it is not a surprise to sing do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do, as the names of the notes in a musical scale.

  The idea is that each of the seven different pitches which make up the musical scale are given a specific name to aid in accurately recalling and singing them. This can be taken a step further: if each note is given a different shape on paper, someone who knows the names of each pitch and how they sound, by relating those pitches to the respective shapes, can sing a piece of music he or she has never previously known. Generically known as solfege today, it is a simple concept, yet one with a long and complicated history.

  Its origins go back to the medieval era, to a certain monk named Guido (pronounced: gweedo) who lived in what is now Italy. He was responsible for teaching the choir boys and other church singers all the Gregorian chants in use at the time. One of the hymns contained these words:

  Ut queant laxis/resonare fibris,/Mira gestorum/famuli tuorum,/Solve pollute/labii reatum,/Sancte Iohannes.

  The distinguishing element that made this hymn so perfect as a means of learning music was the fact that every single line began on the next note of the scale. So, Guido's method? Teach the singers this hymn, then use the first syllable of each line as the name for that particular note. And so we end up with Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si. This is where all solfege methods began. Over time, the first note came to be named Do instead of Ut, and that is the name by which we know it today. Also, in America, Si is commonly known as Ti.

  Unlike most solfege systems, Sacred Harp uses only four names and shapes for the notes. It's complicated as to how it came to be that way but, in short, many people were experimenting and trying to come up with “better” ways of notating music, and in various parts of the world certain of these methods took root. The four names and shapes in The Sacred Harp are, in order, fa, so, la, fa, so, la, mi. As you can see, these four names are repeated in a pattern in order to make up the necessary seven pitches. As with Guido's names, these do help to identify the exact pitches of a scale, though not so clearly; however, there is something else that this particular pattern does. At the risk of becoming too technical, I will try to explain what it is.

  Every scale follows a basic pattern of distance between notes. Some are closer together while others have more space between them. For example: try singing two different notes. The first should be the lowest you can sing and the second as high as you can. There is a wide distance between the two. Now sing two more notes. But this time, make the first in the middle of your range where it is easy to make a sound and then, slowly, let your voice slide a little further up. These two notes are still very much distinct from each other in pitch, but now the distance is much smaller. With a bit of practice, you can make the distance smaller and smaller, while still being able to differentiate each pitch. Now back to the idea of a scale. The first three notes are the same distance higher than the last, but the fourth is a narrower space from the third. So we have a pattern: wide, wide, narrow. Now look back at the pattern of note-names. Fa, so, la are the first three notes, exactly the same distance apart. What follows is a narrow distance, and then the pattern begins all over again, only higher: fa, so, la. This gives us a total of six different pitches. We only need one more—mi. This one is special. Instead of being only a small space away, it is the larger distance up to mi, but from mi it is only the narrow leap up to the next fa.

  Thus, the distance relationship of the pitches, if written in words, would look like this:

Fa (wide space) So (wide space) La (narrow) Fa (wide space) So (wide space) La (wide space) Mi (narrow).... and so the pattern repeats ad infinitum.

  This follows the pattern set in the Bay Psalm Book which has the distinction of being the first book published in the New World. Thus, from the beginning, American's were familiar with this specific notation method, and a good many other song collections simply followed the pattern which was already set, including The Sacred Harp. Although in many respects it appears to be confusing or unorthodox, this was the system responsible for turning America into a singing nation. It can be learned very quickly, is simple, direct and basic, allowing “un-schooled” communities to gather together and read new music confidently, harmonize beautifully, and take pleasure in the experience. It has withstood the test of time in spite of the American penchant for constantly inventing “new and better” methods, of which there have been a great many. In recent years, it has experienced a revival and blossoming of fresh interest and appreciation.

  If you would like to experience the traditional gathering of shape-note singing, please join us this Sunday, November 20, 4:00pm, at the Lobelville Community Center, where the Nashville Sacred Harp singers will be presenting a program. This event is sponsored by Perry County Arts.

For a taste of shape note singing, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJCC4Nrvvw0.



Posted on February 6, 2011 at 11:28 AM Comments comments (0)

I have added a link to the public radio clip recently on WPLN in Nashville. Kevin did several interviews as well as attending our monthyly singing and our annual singing at Immanuel Baptist Church. Check it out.