In Memory of John Bayer, Jr.

Jan 11, 2017 by

In Memory of John Bayer, Jr. by Kelly Macklin John Bayer, Jr. passed away on December 8, 2016 just over a year after the death of his wife, Loraine. They are survived by their children, Regina, Hans, and Jubal, and four grandchildren. I first met John Bayer in September 1990 at the United Convention in Chicago (held for the first time out of the South!) My husband, John, and I were new singers and this was one of our first conventions. John Bayer was also a fairly new shape note singer, but I never realized that until much later, as he was a strong, vibrant and enthusiastic singer who seemed as though he had sung this music all his life. He was a bear of a man, with a beautiful, clear tenor who could...

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Did Lucius Chapin write the Amazing Grace tune?...

May 12, 2015 by

The melody sung to John Newton’s 1779 hymn “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound” is, without a doubt, America’s best-loved hymn tune. Rachel discovered an 1828 manuscript by Lucius Chapin (1760-1842), who was famous in his day as a hymn tune writer, that raises the possibility that Lucius was its composer.

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Download the demo Shenandoah packet...

Apr 29, 2012 by

Here is our 84-page preview of the Shenandoah Harmony.  We sang from it at the NSV All-Day Singing in Millwood, Virginia, June 3, 2012. You are welcome to make multiple paper copies of this packet.  However, please do not post it on a web site. Questions?  Please read my post explaining our editorial policy. If you’re planning to view this on a tablet or phone, you’ll probably prefer the ebook version. Shenandoah Preview Packet 4.66 MB...

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Questioning the Unanswered Cadence...

Mar 29, 2014 by

There’s sometimes an audible gasp from the class after singing REDEEMING GRACE, THE HUMBLE PENITENT, or Allison Blake Steel’s arrangement of HICKS’ FAREWELL. Why the surprise?

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Barring It All, Part 1

Feb 18, 2014 by

Thanks to some perceptive comments on fasola-songwriters and elsewhere, I’m going to revisit my previous post on rhythm and meter.  Two comments that intrigued me were Leah Velleman’s idea that there might be a generative theory of rhythm that applies to shape-note hymnody and Tarik Wareh’s observation that rhythm and the placement of bar lines are not independent phenomena.  Another suggestion, emailed by a friend, was to look at higher-level accents. I hope you’re not sick of LOUISIANA (SH 207), because I’d like to start there again.  I had classified settings of the text as “even” if their accented syllables were evenly spaced.  However, as Leah and others pointed out, I allowed some fudging at the end of lines, so my “even” rhythms weren’t strictly even.  Here’s a rhythmic setting of “Come, little children”...

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Meter, Rhythm, and the Most Awkward Farewell...

Feb 7, 2014 by

Here’s a sequel to my previous post on tune families.  After reading Charles Seeger’s article ”Versions and variants of the tunes of ‘Barbara Allen,'” I was intrigued by the idea of adding rhythm to my analysis of tune families.  In this post, I’m going to explore the contribution of rhythm to a tune’s identity.  Since settings of the same tune family can vary in four dimensions—pitch, time, text, and harmony—I’d like to incorporate rhythm into the study of tune families and also consider the existence of “rhythm families.” First of all, let’s distinguish between meter and rhythm.  Meter, in this context, is the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in the poetry.  It is unaffected by how the text is set to music.  Rhythm, on the other hand, is the pattern of musical note durations...

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