390 OHIO

May 28, 2012 by

We’re including several state songs in the book, including two PENNSYLVANIAs (by Ingalls and Shumway) and this song, Samuel Holyoke’s OHIO (ShH 390), published in 1791–a time when Ohio was the western frontier.  In the introduction to Holyoke’s Harmonia Americana, he writes, Perhaps some may be disappointed, that fugueing pieces are in general omitted.  But the principal reason why few were inserted was the trifling effect produced by that sort of music; for the parts, falling in, one after another, each conveying a different idea, confound the sense, and render the performance a mere jargon of words. Nevertheless, he thinks highly enough of OHIO to include it in the collection, and we’re including it in ours!  It features a triple fugue, each with a different pattern of entries.  My mother, Debbie Hall, introduced the song...

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Challenging songs, Part II: 160 ADMIRATION...

May 21, 2012 by

As a follow up to my previous post on challenging songs, here’s another example of a difficult song that we may or may not include in the book.  Lemuel Babcock’s ADMIRATION (ShH 160), from The Columbian Harmony (1793), illustrates one of the challenges of the shapenote system: making key changes in the middle of a piece.  (Of course, the song was originally published in round notes, so that wasn’t an issue for Babcock.)  ADMIRATION was also in the first shapenote book, The Easy Instructor (1801), but the entire song is in the minor key.  We think the key change should be singable with a strong leader and tenor section—notice that the tenor’s “la-fa-mi” fugue entrance is repeated by each part in turn, so everyone else has a chance to hear the figure first.  And there are some tasty...

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Identity Crisis: The Real M.Kyes...

May 14, 2012 by

In the current pre-publication packet some of you may have noticed that the composer of the anthem ShH 453 CRUCIFIXION is no longer given as “M. Kyes”. The identity of this composer has been a tantalizing enigma for some time; who could write such an extraordinary piece as Crucifixion, and yet remain utterly unknown? Ten pieces are ascribed to M. Kyes in Asahel Benham’s Social Harmony, two more tunes in Benham’s Federal Harmony, and a single tune (ShH 452 SOLITUDE) in Wyeth’s Repository, Part II. A look at Benham’s indices brings up the question: why is “Kyes” the only composer there with an initial before his surname? There is no record of any other composer of the period with the same surname, so why was the distinction necessary? The clue lies in the name...

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Editing songs in the ShH

May 1, 2012 by

Now that our preview packet is out, we’ve received several questions and comments about our editorial policy.  As the “resident academic” on the music committee, I thought I’d try to explain our process for everyone.  This is the result of an ongoing conversation—so I’m sure I’ll be editing this post plenty in the coming months!   –Rachel General policy.  The Shenandoah Harmony  is a book for singers.  Successful singing books such as The Sacred Harp  have undergone substantial revisions in their history, with the general goal of making songs more satisfying to sing and lead in the context of a practice or all-day singing.  However, changes must be made with extreme caution.  Often harmonic or rhythmic irregularities—both features that make a song tricky to sing—are what gives a song its life.  Eliminating them all can...

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Sources of The Shenandoah Harmony...

May 1, 2012 by

I hope you’ve had a chance to check out our preview packet!  You will notice that each song—with the exception of songs by living composers—has a little code in the top corner of the page.  The letters tell you the source and the numbers indicate the page number in that source.  See the second page of the preview packet for a list of abbreviations.  As I am explaining in a lengthy post about editing the book, we have made various changes to songs, so if you’re interested in this sort of thing we encourage you to check out the original sources, too. Many of these sources are freely available online; others belong to the Early American Imprints Series (EAI).  You can find the EAI series and index number through the Hymn Tune Index.  Many major...

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Shenandoah singing in Cork, Ireland...

May 4, 2012 by

The shapenote singers of Cork, Ireland have been meeting about twice a month to sing from the Shenandoah preview packet.  Although they don’t currently have a regular date, Mike Morrisroe writes “There’s no set venue as we’re keeping it in people’s houses for the moment and that’s generally switching every time. Also, if a singer from abroad is interested we may be able to change the date to accommodate them.  My personal email is mjckhead@gmail.com and I’ve no problem with people contacting me, speech-wise, on +353 86 050 5061 if they...

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