This workshop will focus on learning the seven-note shaped-note scale. Our text will be William Walker’s Christian Harmony, which was first published in 1866. Many old hymn favorites will be sung, including “Prayer Meeting” (“Sweet Hour of Prayer”), “Coronation” (“All Hail the Power”), and “New Britain” (“Amazing Grace”).
No experience is necessary – just bring your voices and some water!
About shaped notes: The addition of shaped-notes to religious texts was introduced during the 18th century in New England in an effort to restore congregational singing, the reading of music, and the musical heritage that had perished since the early settlers came to America. Congregational singing declined with the increase of illiteracy and the scarcity of printed music. Singing schools utilizing shaped-notes were instituted to instruct and to encourage lively group singing. Eventually, these singing schools spread throughout the East and the South with the continued westward expansion of frontier America. Recently, this style of singing has gained national attention through the film Cold Mountain, which was set in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
The shaped-notes appear on the musical staff in place of the round-note notation, and accurately represent the syllables of the musical scale. Shapes are applied to give the singer a visual aid indicating the pitch of the scale degree that the shape represents.
About Laura Boosinger: Laura lives in Asheville, NC, but has the good fortune to work in Madison County, which is known for its ballad traditions and is home to a slew of traditional and bluegrass musicians. Laura Boosinger has been studying and performing traditional Southern Appalachian music since she was a student at Warren Wilson College in the 1970’s. It was at WWC where she began to learn clawhammer banjo, learned how to call southern mountain square dances, and attended Shaped Note Singing School with North Carolina Folk Heritage Award winner Quay Smathers. Laura performs solo, as one of David Holt’s Lightning Bolts, with her duet partner Josh Goforth, and with The Midnight Plowboys. Her latest recording, Most of All, with Josh Goforth, has received extensive airplay throughout the US and the UK. Laura is a member of the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame and won the Lunsford Award in 2008. Learn more about Laura.