“Sacred Harp” is a term referring to the musical instrument in found in all of us: the human voice. Sung without the accompaniment of any other musical instruments, also known as a capella, this is the oldest form of American music that still exists today.
The music is sung in a four-part harmony using treble, bass, alto and tenor singers. Singers form a square facing each other while individuals from the group take turns leading the singers. Each leader chooses songs that contain spiritual significance that represents the beauty, joy, and loss in life.
“Sacred Harp “or “Old Harp” is a traditional form of singing that started in the New England colonies in the 1700s. This music thrived in rural areas of the south that recognized congregational music as an American tradition. They achieved this by using two forms of memorization that would allow the most novice of beginners to be able to “sight-read” the sheet music.
First, the singer is taught “solmization”, or the association of a given syllable (FA, SOL, LA, MI) with a particular scale. When starting, the singers will sing the syllables below to find the song's scale.