We started singing in May, 2009. Small group, but most of us know the book (MP3 files) pretty well.
The social dynamics of Sacred Harp singing differ from a choir or an amateur performing group. Here, you have more freedom to work out your own personal musical agenda (in the company of other inner-directed singers).
|Learning by osmosis||Shape Note singing is the only genre of music in America today where adults can learn music by osmosis.|
|The tradition is designed for this very purpose. Because we sing "biological harmonies" your brain naturally tunes in and remembers.|
Osmosis takes weeks, but enjoyment is immediate (some learning materials are stashed here) ( and our favorite songs here).
|Musical hospitality||Musical hospitality means:|
| (1) That everyone gets a chance to call a song from Sacred Harp. |
We may not sing it perfectly, but we'll do a better job next week.
(What to call?) (Favorite song management)
|(2) That we overlook each other's imperfections.|
|(3) That we come to sing, not to discuss religion or politics. |
The fact that the words to the songs are religious (an "1844 hymnal", if you will) misleads many people. We "leave religion at the door" -- also a good place to leave "critical thinking".
|Secret teaching||If people are allowed to sing their favorite songs, they always enjoy themselves, even if they don't get all the notes right.|
|If the song is so wonderful as to deserve perfection, then surely someone will call it next week.|
|Mysterious optimization||If 6 singers come and we go around the room twice, then we've sung 12 songs.|
|That means -- 12 favorite songs; 12 personal choices; 12 focused lessons.|
|Workshops||We used to have a lot of workshops.|
|Now we depend more on informal learning. |
E.g., singers keep private lists of songs they are working on. Very inner-directed.
|Regular singings||On the "fourth Thursday" (Thursday before fourth Sunday),|
| we invite singers from all over Los Angeles area. Thus slightly more singers, more variety.|
|Songbook focus||Our main songbook is the 1991 edition of Sacred Harp.|
("America's favorite acappella songbook")|
The 550+ songs in this collection are suitable for a small group of singers of average skills who want to sing in four-part harmony, and enjoy a mix of major key and minor key songs. The songs are not designed for performance, but for living room singings and other social occasions.
|Singing hours||Songs are served on Thursdays 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm |
|(We are more like a bar that serves music, than a choir.)|
|These are not "rehearsals" for some future performance, so there's no need to come precisely at 7:00|
(Who ever felt "late" because they walked into a bar 60 minutes after opening time?)
|"Not a choir"||"Social singing" differs from choirs in many ways.|
|Since we don't perform, you never let the group down by "missing a rehearsal". Want to go bowling? No guilt. We're not preparing to get up on stage and act perfect. Go bowling then. |
|Generally, singing techniques are not taught in Sacred Harp circles.|
Sacred Harp rhetoric says "It's okay to sing loud"; but you will gain more control of your voice by singing sensitively. |
It's also recommended, as you surf the Web, to find singers who have exactly the same vocal range as yourself. At least find someone who has the same upper range as you yourself now possess (not some future hope-for range).
Contact: David Olson (310) 410-9033 for more details.
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Santa Monica Learner's Group
Link to other shape note singings in West Los Angeles area
More information on Shape Note Singing in general
Singing location: 4427 Overland Avenue, Culver City, California
Close to "The Spot Cafe & Lounge"
Other goodies on this website.