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Guides and Tutorials


The following will clear up some of your confusion regarding the terms and names used by us.

Tutorials & Lists

We hope you find these instructive and useful. First, though, comes the obligatory warning. This is what your life will become if you pursue singing Sacred Harp: Your Terrible Future  But if you choose to continue on, here is a collection of tutorials in the art of this kind of singing:

  1. Singing School Workbook This will take you from knowing nothing to the intermediate level of skill. PDF.
  2. Primer on Beating Time/Leading This gives you the arm motions, and tips on leading at all-day singings. There is a little bit of overlap with the Singing School Workbook. PDF.
  3. Listen to the Leading Lesson from the February 2012 PNW Convention-Washington Session.
  4. Accenting Lesson by Matthew Parkinson for the Auvergne France Sacred Harp singers, with links to audio examples.
  5. Singing Minor Songs and Ignoring Accidentals This is a collection of the reasons for not singing accidentals that are printed in the music and why we sing minor songs with a raised 6th. This topic is included in the Singing School Workbook, but not as thoroughly as here. PDF. *Cooper Sacred Harp minor songs are sung the same way, they're just not in this list.
  6. How to Find the 6th in Minor Songs  This handy lesson will teach you how to find the note in minor music that needs to be treated in the Sacred Harp way. Note: there is reference made in the handout to two Denson Sacred Harp songs, not labelled as such. PDF
  7. List of Sacred Harp raised 6th Minor songs This is a handy list of the *Denson Sacred Harp songs that are minor and include the sixth note of the minor scale somewhere in the parts. It identifies which staff position the note is on and in which part it appears. PDF
  8. Critique of a Popular Scales Illustration Much angst could have been prevented if our beloved Sacred Harp books printed our minor music the way we actually sing it (as indeed, the Rudiments instruct us to sing it). Let us be reconciled emotionally to this by contemplating the angst non-English speakers react to the way in which we make some consonants do double duty for which sound that letter of the alphabet represents on the printed page, e.g., "cancel". Non-keynote Fa simply has a similar dual role...
  9. List of Denson Sacred Harp songs to be Wary of This is a miscellaneous list of 9 songs, all in the major, with one or another thing to be alert about. The problem is stated, and one solution is offered. If the explanation for each is too brief, write us...

Advice Columns

Tune Books

  • 1911 James Ed. Original Sacred Harp This is a free PDF document, hosted on google drive, which you are free to download and install on your own device. You'll want Adobe Reader to view it. (Karen Willard put this together from a digitized book on Copy and paste this link into your browser to download it from Karen's google drive:

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