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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Singing Saturday

Last year when I attended the Lagniappe Dulcimer Festival, I was introduced to a type of choral singing called Sacred Harp Singing. I had never been exposed to this and was very fascinated by it.

I'll give you a brief overview of what Sacred Harp Singing is and you can also check out a website dedicated to it, if you're interested. The style was originated by the early settlers of our country for times when folks gathered for fellowship and worship. There are no instruments used during the singing. It is based on the traditional "do re mi" scale, but only four names are used: fa, sol, la and mi. These names were given to shapes used on the musical scale in lieu of the typical notes found. The music was written in four parts and the singers sit in a square facing a hollow middle in which the song leader stands. The leader gives the pitches and the singers sing the song using the shape names first, then the words to the song. This is all done a capella - no instrumentation.

When I took the workshop during the festival last year, I was very intrigued by it. I love to sing and this was very different from anything I had ever done. I learned three songs in just under an hour - songs I had never sung before.

So when I learned of a Sacred Harp festival that was just 45 minutes north of us here in Alabama, I was anxious to go. Pat wanted to go, too, as did another woman from our dulcimer groups, Jeanelle. Mary Anne, the leader of Jam n Folks, would be there, too. At 8am this morning, Pat, Jeanelle and I headed up the road to join in the festival.

Boy, was I ever disappointed!!!!!! I expected a little introduction to the singing, such as how it's done, what to expect of the festival, etc. Oh, no. We all got seated and next thing I knew someone called out a page number, a leader stood in the middle of the square and the singing began. No how ya doing, nothing. And then the volume of the singing was LOUD! After three songs my ears were ringing. Seriously. Ringing. In my ears.

It wasn't that the singing was bad. Actually, everyone carried a tune quite nicely. It was just that they did it at the tops of their lungs. There was no flow to the songs, no beauty. We sang "Amazing Grace" and that is a song that has a gentle fluidity to it. Not here! The group sang. the. words. and. that. was. it. I felt like jumping up and yelling, "Hey, we're singing about the Lord here, people!! Act like you love Him!!"

Anyway, that was my morning. I couldn't wait to get out of there. Luckily, Pat & Jeanelle felt the same way. I don't know if every Sacred Harp group is like that, but I sure hope not. At least the people were friendly, I can say that. :)

On the way home we met Dick & Randy at Camping World 'cause they were having a big sale. Randy & I didn't see anything we couldn't live without except for a water hose and some tank chemicals. That was nice being able to walk out of Camping World with most of our money still in our wallet! :)

We ended our day with a trip to the old fashioned drug store in Foley. They have a soda fountain and counter where you order ice cream, shakes, etc. Randy had been craving a good banana split and we were told this was the place to get one. He and Dick had splits, Pat had a sundae, and I had a milkshake and sandwich. Randy was very happy with his banana split!

Sorry this was such a long post. Hope your Saturday was a good one. Until the next time . . .

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