Traditional Shape-Note Singing Alive, Cherished in Floyd Co.

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The Floyd County Historical Society will host a public event on Saturday, Nov. 9 featuring the history of shape-note singing, as well as the Floyd Shape-Note Singers at the Floyd Center for the Arts.

The event is open to the public.

In the early 1700’s, New England Puritans forbade the use of instruments during worship services. As time passed the Puritans wished to reintroduce harmony into their sacred music. The answer to re-teaching harmony singing to a population with no access to traditional musical instruction was a simplified form of presenting hymns using shapes on the notes to denote how each was to be sung. Sacred Harp shape-note sing was born.

Shape-note singing spread through the country becoming especially strong in the rural south and the Appalachian Mountains. Soon after the develop of the shape note system, singing schools emerged using shape notes for the purpose of teaching lay people the foundations of reading music. Teachers were commissioned by church congregations to conduct singing schools for children and adults.

The tradition of the singing school survives in Floyd County with instruction in shape-note singing to this day. Shape-note singing in Floyd County is vibrant with an active and growing group known simply as the Floyd Shape-Note Singers.

The event showcasing the cherished art will begin at 10 a.m., with a brief Historical Society meeting followed by the quest presenters and shape-note singers. The Historical Society invites everyone interested in this traditional music to attend.