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At the special sing in South Park in 2014
Come Sing With Us!
Beginners are welcome.
Next local sing:
Our group has been shape note singing in the Kaw Valley (northeast Kansas) since 1991. Shape note singing is a very community-oriented, inclusive form of singing. No experience is necessary, and we charge no admission fee or dues. While most of the tunes in the book we sing from (which dates back to the 1840's) are hymns and anthems, we are a cultural, not religion-based organization. Come see what it is about at one of our upcoming events listed below! On the web, you can visit the Sacred Harp Page or the Fasola Home Page to learn more about shape note singing in general.
We sing monthly, usually on the third Sunday of the month, with occasional adjustment due to holidays and special events. Our usual location is Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Lawrence, but it sometimes varies. Check back here for details on our next sings!
Sunday, August 28, 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm
Each August we have a special sing in conjunction with the Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships on the fourth Sunday of the month instead of our usual third-Sunday sing. So join us from 1:30 to 3:30 pm in South Park, 12th and Massachusetts at the south edge of downtown Lawrence for a wonderful outdoor sing. As usual at our regular sings, newcomers are welcome and the sing is free. This is a great place for beginners to experience shape note singing. There are also lots of other free fun activities all afternoon for people of all ages. Find more about the other Fiddling and Picking events at www.fidpick.com.
Directions to our regular location: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
If you are coming in to Lawrence from the east on K-10, stay on 23rd Street until you reach Inverness, then turn right.
If you are coming in on I-70, get off at the West Lawrence exit (US-59). Go south to Clinton Parkway (23rd Street) and turn right. Go west on Clinton Parkway to Inverness, and turn right again.
Either way, the church will be on the left hand side as you proceed north on Inverness.
Questions about our sings? phone Brad at 785-749-1356.
Regular Shape-Note Singing Nearby:
To those used to the tight harmonies and polished dynamics of modern and commercial music, shape note singing will sound quite different. It is typically sung full voice (no or very few written dynamics), and tends to have more open harmonies. It is done for the joy of singing, not as a rehearsed performance. Traditionally the first time through a song, we "sing the shapes", singing the fa, sol, la, and mi syllables that go with the four shapes of notes (triangle, oval, rectangle, and diamond) printed in shape note music. (So if we were singing the shapes of the four notes in our logo, we would sing sol fa la mi.) The advantage to singing the shapes the first time through is not needing to look back and forth between the words and the music - the shape of the musical note tells you what to sing.
The following mp3 file from one of our sings in 1998 was chosen not for its quality, but as representative of the tunes and process of shape note singing. It starts with one person giving pitching the tune, since shape note tunes are pitched wherever convenient for the range of those present at a sing. Next, the tune is sung once through singing the shapes, and then it is sung through with the words. As you can hear, a few people started with the words by accident, but quickly corrected themselves. Mistakes happen - we accept them. But we also enjoy when a tune falls into place particularly well. Since we are sitting in a square, with one part singing on each of the sides, it can be very powerful when you hear all four parts coming together full force in harmony.
You can also listen to #217, Ballstown, recorded at our Feb 4, 2012 sing, on YouTube.
There is a tradition of keeping minutes of what is sung at shape note / Sacred Harp gatherings.
We don't always get around to it. But you can look here at some of the minutes we have kept to get a
feel for which songs we sing frequently.
Tunes sung Feb 2009-Jan 2012, ordered by number of times sung:
West Side Folk - Folk Concert Series in the Lawrence, KS area.
Lawrence Barn Dance Association - Contra Dancing in the Lawrence, KS area.
International Folk Dance - in Lawrence, Kansas
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Please bookmark this page as www.kawshapenote.org.
This page maintained by Brad Levy. Last Update: 27 August, 2016