Sacred Harp singing at Gazebo today

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music Concerts at the Gazebo series will continue with Scared Harp Singing at 5:15 today on the square in downtown Troy.

The featured groups will be Willie Felton and Company and Stanley Smith and Company.

Sacred Harp singing is also called shape note singing. The groups will entertain with both the four and seven note systems.

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“Shape notes are a music notation designed to facilitate congregational singing,” said Shadron Graham, administrative assistant of the sponsoring Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center. “Shape notes of various kinds have been used for more than two centuries in a variety of sacred music traditions practiced primarily in the Southern region of the United States.” Graham said the idea behind shape notes is that the parts of a vocal work can be learned more quickly and easily if the music is printed in shapes that match up with the syllables with which the notes of the musical scale are sung.

Richard Metzger, Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center executive director, said he has never had the opportunity to hear Sacred Harp singing.

“I’m looking forward to hearing singing that is an art form that is probably underserved,” he said.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity to extend my horizons and learn about a unique music culture. The fact that shape note singing is practiced in our area and having two great groups that are part of our community on the program is very exciting. I’m looking forward to celebrating this music in the spirit of the New Harmonies roots music series.” The roots music concert series at the Stephens Gazebo is held in conjunction with the

New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music Smithsonian traveling exhibition at the Cultural Arts Studio. The exhibit runs through Nov. 11. The concerts on the square and the New Harmonies exhibition are free and open to the public.

The Cultural Arts Studio is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.