Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More Sacerd Harp Singing

The clip I put up in the last post was intended to show that the power of this style lies in the singing, not necessarily in the polished sound. But my friend Jean on Facebook took issue with that logic, pointing out that as a writer on classical music, I should be taking pains to show this vital American tradition in its best light.

With that in mind, here's a video clip of a Sacred Harp Singing Convention where the singing is of a little bit better quality. Still it hopefully gives a clear example of the power of what is essentially an amateur, participatory style.

Notice there is no audience apart from the singers themselves! This is no rehearsal. They aren't training for some future goal or opportunity. This is the complete experience. A bunch of people in a room singing together. That's it.

And here is a professional choir singing a tune by early American Sacred Harp composer William Billings. The difference in performance quality is clear and the music is revealed as even more beautiful, if less visceral.

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