Streaming Video of the United Convention

The 108th session of the United Sacred Harp Musical Association, meeting at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville this weekend, will be streamed live over the Internet this weekend. This will be the first attempt at live streaming a Sacred Harp singing convention.

J. S. James, Leading, Composition, and Starting a Singing – Classes at Camp Fasola

I taught several classes this June and July at the two sessions of Camp Fasola, a weeklong summer camp for learning Sacred Harp singing, history, and traditions held in Alabama.
With Aldo Ceresa, I co-taught a class on the music and historical context of the revision of The Sacred Harp by J. S. James in 1911. Our class mixed singing with the telling of stories about James and his collaborators and rivals. The class was timed to mark the hundredth anniversary of the publication of the “James Book.”

I also taught an intermediate class on leading songs at Sacred Harp singings, moderated a discussion on starting, feeding, and maintaining a regular or annual singing, and led a session where singers led and discussed collaborative Sacred Harp composition exercises and new songs they had written in the styles of The Sacred Harp. 

Attendance at Camp was quite high this year and the campers came from across the United States as well as from Canada and several European countries. The campers ranged from singers with over 60 years of experience singing from The Sacred Harp to those who had never attended a singing. As always, teaching such a motivated and diverse group of learners was an enriching and enjoyable experience.

“Subliminal History of New York” Featured in the Ninth Letter

The third edition of my and Carrie Dashow’s Subliminal History of New York State: Route of Progress, a collection of shape note songs and accompanying stories telling the subliminal history of New York’s Erie Canal, has been published as the “Art Feature” in Ninth Letter, Volume 8, Number 1 (Spring/Summer 2011).

I collaboratively produced this book with New York City-based artist Carrie Dashow. Carrie wrote the poetry that I set to music, and wrote and illustrated the stories accompanying each piece. I designed and typeset the book.

Lecture on Composers’ Approaches to Writing for the Sacred Harp at University College Cork

On Thursday, March 3 at University College Cork, in Cork Ireland, I will be participating in a lecture panel on The Sacred Harp with Professor Neely Bruce (Wesleyan University) held in conjunction with the first Ireland Sacred Harp Convention and Singing School.

My talk, “Experimentalism and Conservatism: Independence and Influence in the Music of The Sacred Harp” will discuss composers’ approaches to writing for The Sacred Harp. A brief abstract:

The wide ranging music in The Sacred Harp emerges from an approach to composition that is both experimental and conservative. Despite their relative isolation, and purposeful independence from any rules of composition, many Sacred Harp writers were nonetheless influenced by popular musical styles, and willingly constrained by the writing of previous generations.

Brief Article in the Friends of Pitts Library Newsletter

The most recent issue of Emory’s Pitts Theology Library’s Friends of Pitts Library Newsletter (PDF, 259kb) contains a brief article I wrote situating Emory’s annual Sacred Harp singing in the context of the history of shape note singing and singing conventions.

New Sacred Harp Publishing Company Web Site

Late last week I launched a new version of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company web site, the second redesign since I took over as webmaster in 2008. The new site is built with WordPress and features a customized version of the Twenty Ten theme also used here. The site features a larger main column, more readable text, and a new newsletter section which will feature updates from the Company and posts on Sacred Harp history and items of interest.

Presenting Digitized Books on the Web

Update: I revised this post on December 2, 2010 to incorporate suggestions by Will Fitzgerald and additional examples of digitized books found since I wrote this piece.

In my seminar in digital scholarship and media studies at Emory this fall, I’m embarking on a project that involves the digitization and presentation of a few books in the Sacred Harp tradition. Searching for the best platform for presenting these books alongside original research has led me to look into various technical solutions for displaying digitized books on the web. Continue reading “Presenting Digitized Books on the Web”