The music we sing is unaccompanied three- and four-part vocal harmony in a rustic style dating back to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America, still a living tradition in the South and being taken up all over the English-speaking world and beyond. The songs are found in "tunebooks" such as the Sacred Harp (1844), the Southern Harmony (1835) and the Christian Harmony (1866/7), and new tunes are constantly being composed. The words are usually (though not always) religious in nature, but people of all faiths and none sing this music, not as an act of worship but for sheer enjoyment. It's not a performance but a communal participative event, and a "good" voice is not necessary. While music-reading ability is an advantage, it's not essential.
For occasional updates on shapenote singing in Scotland, join our email list.
The annual Scottish All-Day Singing was on Saturday 20 August at Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church, Glasgow.
We are featured on this SmallVOICE podcast: www.smallvoice.org.uk/smallvoice-podcast-febmar-2014