Sacred Harp Singing is a potent American choral song form that emphasises the social. I’m on My Journey Home compiles some vintage recordings (dating from between 1927 and 1938) onto cassette. The sound quality may not be hi-def, but the spiritual power of these performances shines on through. On Death Is Not The End.
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Sacred harp is a specific type of choral singing that originated and largely had its place the American South. Its name originated from a book of the same name containing sheet music with shape notes -- a specific type of notation that helps the reader understand scales more simply. With guideline syllables for each note, many sacred harp tunes would begin with these wordless intonations, shifting from opening syllabic verses to properly lyrical songs of (largely Protestant) praise.
This compilation, issued by the always fantastic Death Is Not the End, offers some startlingly beautiful choral singing, with particular groups in late ‘20s and early ‘30s American South performing gorgeous, full-bodied pieces out of twanging harmonies. Largely, the compilation represents the a cappella restraints of the genre, though groups would occasionally play with piano accompaniment; it’s music that feels sparse and economical while still offering that immense, almost overdriven feel that arises from group singing.
A truly special release. Hearing these artists move from their wordless singing warm-ups into realised songs of praise is humbling and lovely.
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