Friday, June 13, 2008

Handel, Meet the Soggy Bottom Boys

Whether you are religious or not, the beautiful a cappella sound that is the trademark of Sacred Harp singers cannot help but touch a chord in your soul.

Described as a sort of "Handel meets Soggy Bottom Boys", this is American 19th century music at its best. Written in "shape notes" the music enabled people to sight-read music without much training. Primitve, yes, but the sound is entrancing.

I found these two YouTube videos as good examples of the Sacred Harp sound; the one above, Idumea, is accompanied by photos of American Indians. If you saw the movie "Cold Mountain", you will recall hearing Idumea on the soundtrack. (Note to self: must purchase this cd)

This made me stop and think - I am sure the YouTube poster had already thought of this comparison, thus the reason behind the photos: that American Indians performed similar "sing song" rituals during their various ceremonies, as shown here:

And one last video which has nothing at all to do with singing, but is just so dang-gummed pretty and soothing:

1 comment:

Foo said...

That's some amazing stuff, Pattie. I recall the Cold Mountain soundtrack being some very moving stuff, but thanks for reminding me to at least look for it at Half Price Books.