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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Check us out in the Sacred Harp Newsletter!...

Sep 13, 2012 by

Our friend Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg invited us to write an article about the forthcoming publication of The Shenandoah Harmony. The result appears in the newest issue of The Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter.  In addition to a brief summary of the project and our progress thus far, we’ve highlighted four of our favorite songs with links to YouTube videos: Chapin’s PSALM 30 (1813), Wyeth & Davisson’s CONSOLATION NEW (1813), Richard Popp’s STONY ISLAND (1994), and Merit Woodruff’s SINAI (1801).  The first two recordings are from the Keystone Convention and the second two are from the NSV All-Day.  Thanks to all of you who helped us sing!  Here’s the...

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Charts and graphs, oh my!

Jul 13, 2012 by

Being a mathematically-inclined person, I’m always interested in the stories one can tease out of data…  Now that we’ve got the book mostly mapped out, I made a chart displaying the first publication dates of the songs.  Each dot in the chart represents a song.  Given that we started with the Kentucky Harmony and its Supplement, you’d think that the most common year would be, say, 1816 or 1825.  However, the majority of the tunes Davisson published were from earlier authors.  The longest line of dots is for the year 1793, the publication of Shumway’s American Harmony and Stone’s Columbian Harmony, both of which are well represented in The Shenandoah Harmony. It’s quite interesting to compare the song profile of The Shenandoah Harmony with a similar chart displaying songs in The Sacred Harp (1991).  (Thanks to Ian Quinn...

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