184 Sinai

Jun 29, 2012 by

We first encountered ShH 184 SINAI (1801) in Hauser’s Hesperian Harp (1848). It is the best known composition of the teenaged Woodruff, who drowned at the age of nineteen. Back in the day, the alto, or counter, part was often sung by boys, and we like to think that Merit wrote this fantastic alto part to sing himself. This recording is from the Northern Shenandoah Valley All-Day Shenandoah Singing,...

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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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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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