Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Camp Fasola

Camp Lee, Anniston, Alabama

June 29-July 3, 2003

Sunday, June 29

The first-ever summer camp for teaching Sacred Harp began as campers of all ages checked in and received their room assignments. Campers unpacked, greeted each other, became familiar with the facilities of Camp Lee, and then convened for dinner at 6:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m. Class Singing

David Ivey, Camp Fasola Co-Director, welcomed the class and gave orientation instructions. He added that when he and Jeff Sheppard were planning the camp, they decided that if only 20 people attended they would still hold the camp, and that if 40 people attended it would be a success. But in the end there would be 73 (t? b?) full time campers from 18 states, 22 of which were youth.

Leaders: Jeff Sheppard 63; Jackson Harcrow 153; Terre Schill 112; Martha Beverly 40; Alex Makris and Neila Nicholson 312b; Blake Sizemore 354b; Don Bowen 276; Henry Schumann and BJ Schnorenberg 32t; Riley Lee 300; Judith Green 384; Mary Elizabeth Lee 36b; Thomas Willard 145b; April Dell 31t; Martha Henderson 65; Tommy George 388; Stephen Shearon 64; Cathryn Baker 277; Richard Schmeidler 155; Annie Grieshop 84; Paul Figura 143; Betty Jones 68b; David Ivey 81t.

The evening devotion was given by Samuel Sommers, reading the Evening Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. The book calls for a psalm to be sung, and the class sang 524 for this purpose.

Monday, June 30

The order of events for each day of camp generally was: 8 a.m. breakfast; 9 a.m. rudiments; 10:15 recess/snacks; 10:30 recreation; 12 p.m. lunch; 1:15 lesson; 2:15 recreation; 3:45 recess/snack; 4:00 lesson; 5:00 recreation; 6:00 dinner; 7:30 class or community singing; 9:30 devotions; 9:45 report to quarters; 10:30 lights out.

8:00 a.m. Breakfast

Breakfast included eggs, sausage, grits, muffins, biscuits, French toast, juice, and fruit. Other meals at camp similarly included abundant amounts of food prepared by the hardworking kitchen staff of Camp Lee.

9:00 a.m. Rudiments

During the three days of instruction at camp, David Ivey taught classes for youth and adult beginners on the rudiments from “The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition.” Jeff Sheppard did the same for more experienced singers. Experienced class: The class learned the shapes of the notes, sang the major and minor scales, and then sang notes at random when Jeff pointed to them on the board. The class then learned the position of “mi”; whole/half/quarter/eighth note recognition; how to count the measures; ties and slurs; where is the melody (not always in the tenor; sometimes it moves around); time signatures; and rhythm.

Jeff mentioned that if you want people to come to your singing, you should attend theirs throughout the year, not just on the Sunday before your singing. In this way, people get to know you and will come to your singing because you came to theirs.

Question from a class member: Why do we sing so loud? Jeff replied: For enjoyment. It is just more fun to sing loud and fast. His group in Anniston used to sing this way. They used to criticize people also, if they weren’t singing right. But when the group dwindled because of age and they were seeking new members, they would lose potential singers because the new people couldn’t keep up and were intimidated. Now, Jeff’s group is more careful. With beginners they sing softer and slower so the beginners can learn better, and sing songs the experienced people don’t know so that everyone will be more equal.

Youth class: The class members received notebooks and pencils and were instructed to take notes and to draw everything they studied. Everyone drew a staff; a clef sign; note shapes and their names; whole, half, quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes; measures, phrase bars, and double bars; major and minor scales with shapes and steps (whole or half) marked. The class sang both the major and minor scales and also sang different notes as David pointed to them on the board. The class learned that music contains the elements of pitch, time or length, volume, and accent.

A brace is a set of 4 parts (treble, alto, tenor, bass) linked together. The class looked at songs 36 (t? b?) (single brace), 87 (double brace), and 236 (8 braces). The range of the different voice parts was discussed: High—treble and tenor for women and men; low—alto for women and bass for men. When the song contains only 3 parts, omitting the alto, altos usually sing the bass part. 138t was used to illustrate this.

Different modes of time: common (2/4; 4/4; 2/2); triple (3/4; 3/2); compound (6/4; 6/8). The tempo of these modes: 2/4 is fastest, followed by 4/4 and 3/4; 2/2 and 3/2 are the slowest. This depends on the leader, however.

Accent: The accent is a heavier stress put on some beats than others. In 4/4, the accent is on the first and third beats; in 2/2 and 2/4 time it is on the first beat; in 3/2 and 3/4 time it is on the first and third beats; in 6/8 and 6/4 it is on the first and fourth beats.

The class learned how to beat common and triple time. (Common: down/up, although in 4/4 one can also beat down, in, out, up; triple: down/down/up). The class sang 87, the first song David learned as a child, and 45t.

10:30 a.m. Recreation

Some of the class went canoeing; some did crafts; some rested; and some went to enjoy the fabulous rock slide, a waterfall _ mile up the mountain along a rough trail.

1:15p.m. Shelbie Sheppard

Shelbie Sheppard taught a class on proper behavior while at singings and especially in the square. Some of her remarks: This is sacred music, not folk music. People who come to a singing, especially those who lead, should conduct themselves in a manner that is appropriate for a religious event, because that’s what this gathering is to those who have been raised in this music. Wear your best clothes (until a few years ago, no woman would wear anything but a dress); keep talking to a minimum; don’t come and go during the singing because this disrupts the class.

When you lead, conduct yourself in a manner that is pleasing to those who are watching. Don’t distract people from the music by doing something annoying or ungraceful. Adjust your clothes when you get up to lead so that they are straight. Don’t jump, gyrate, bounce, sway, or stoop; don’t wave your arm wildly so that the class can’t get the beat; tap your foot but don’t stomp it; don’t throw your book on the floor when you don’t need it, but hand it to someone in the front row.

Everyone has their own unique way of leading that no one can duplicate. You can develop your own style in leading, while still remaining graceful.

2:45 p.m. Sacred Harp Geography

Maps of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and the United States were laid out on a table. From the Sacred Harp minute book, David Ivey read each city and state where a singing is held in the months of January through March. Each class member was assigned a place from the minute book and asked to find it on one of the maps and mark it with a sticky dot. The children showed great enthusiasm for this project.

David later asked each singer at the camp to place a pin in their home town on the map of the United States. (Lucy Leddington-Wright, from Coventry in England, had to put her pin on the eastern edge of the map). The map, containing both locations of singings and singers’ places of residence, was displayed at Wednesday’s evening singing as a testament to how widespread Sacred Harp is becoming.

2:45 p.m. Advanced Rudiments

Jeff Sheppard led a class on advanced rudiments. Topics discussed were:

Where to accent a song in all the different modes of time; how to pitch; raised sixths (sung when singing a song, but not when singing a scale); observing the full value of rests, which is just as important as giving notes their full value; how to tell what key the song is in, and whether minor or major (look for the “mi.” The major tonic note is the “fa” above the “mi”; the minor tonic is the “la” below the “mi”); how to sing a D.S. al fine; how to sing choice notes and grace notes; how to start a song with a rest at the beginning (beat the whole measure, including the rest).

Songs: 156, 325, 143, 438, 439, 213t, 213b.

Question from a class member: Is it all right to lead without a book? In Cincinnati this person had heard that it is considered pretentious. Shelbie replied that she has not heard of this idea, and that it is all right to lead without a book if you know the song well enough. She added that if you don’t need the book when you are leading, don’t drop the book on the floor. Hand it to someone in the front row, or close the book with your other hand while that hand is on the way up from the downbeat. Keep your finger in the page just in case you need to see it again.

Jeff said that singing master E. I. McGuire used to lead with one hand behind his back. That was the fashion in that time and location. He added that it was a hard task in those days for singing masters to pursue their craft. They had to travel by wagon and mule, and traveling 35 miles could take two or three days. They also had to feed themselves, the children, and the mules, both ways. When they arrived at their destination they would stay with families, or the families in the area would help them set up housekeeping if they were staying for a while. One singing master received a milk cow upon his arrival. He stayed two years. Jeff thinks he gave the cow back when he left.

Shelbie added that when she was growing up in Cleburne County, Alabama, so many singers would attend a singing that only one out of each family would get to lead. Tom and Seaborn Denson lived in Cleburne County, and Arbacoochee (which gave song 430 its name) is there.

5:00 p.m. Lesson on leading

David Ivey and Jeff Sheppard taught a class on how to lead Sacred Harp songs. Topics discussed were: The function of a leader (the leader is not a performer—the leader’s job is to help the class get the most out of the song spiritually and musically); the function of the front bench tenors (to keep the class together and to help inexperienced leaders); when to repeat and when not to (depends on the type of song, time of day, whether people are tired—be parsimonious with repeats, don’t repeat every verse); choosing songs (choose according to the time of day, the mood of the class, what song came before, whether singers are fatigued—don’t sing an anthem at the end of the day; faster, more difficult songs can be led right after lunch when people are rested, which is the strongest singing of the day); arm movement (shoulder to waist, no larger); the leader sings the tenor part; the class should sound the chord before singing so that the person pitching knows they have their starting notes; efficient leading practices (be prepared—know your song; have several choices of songs in case someone takes yours; turn to basses to signal a repeat).

7:30 p.m. Evening singing and leading practice

Songs were kept to one verse each, plus shapes, to allow more people to lead.

Leaders: David Ivey 332; Ken Hallock 373; Ann Webb 48t; John Plunkett 571; Larue Allen 222; Rachel Baker 87; Alex Makris 388; B.J. Schnorenberg 290; Sandy and Neila Nicholson (mother and daughter) 354 (t? b?); Blake Sizemore 59; Trevor East 300; Allison Ivey and Jonathan Taft (age 4, youngest camper and great-great-grandson of George Pullen Jackson) 108t; Julie Lee 109; Lela Crowder 430; April Dell 84; Tommy George 155; Riley Lee 171; Karen Willard 349; Jackson Harcrow 317b; Mary Elizabeth Lee and Tina Reddish 58.

8:30 p.m. Hayride

Despite rain, a good number of campers decided to go on the hayride. The rest had free time.

9:30 p.m. Campfire Devotion

The Monday night vespers was given by Karen Willard. She told the story of how the text of song on 330b came to be written, read the complete hymn, and developed the theme that, no matter our spiritual beliefs, each can find personal meaning in the hymns of the Sacred Harp if we take the time to look for it. She closed with a prayer.

Tuesday, July 1

9:00 a.m. Rudiments

Experienced class: The class sang the major and minor scales and discussed time signatures. Then the class worked on songs requested by the campers for some element of difficulty, or to illustrate a point. Songs: 49b (slowly for the beginners, then a little faster); 188 (because of the triplets, which are also short scales); 355 (changes from minor to major in the middle of the song) led by Dennis George; 45b; 349; 367; 447; 304.

Youth class: The class reviewed the major and minor scales and discussed the tonic, or starting note. They practiced beating compound time (down on beats 1,2,3; up on beats 4,5,6). They sang the song on page 87 and talked about the rest on this song, the repeats, and the first and second endings.

The class then reviewed notation, including slurs and joined flags; birds eyes (pause or hold); choice notes (when two notes are printed one above the other in the same part, the singer can choose which he or she prefers); D.C. or D.S./fine; and dynamics or volume (ff-very loud; f-loud; p-soft; pp-very soft). The class drew these things in their notebooks.

The class learned that the composer of the tune is listed at the top right of the page; the author of the words, at the top left.

David Ivey talked about B. F. White’s newspaper “The Organ.” This contained new music that was submitted to White. People would bring the paper to meetings and sing the songs from it.

The class sang the scales and there was time for questions. The song on page 24 (t? b?) was sung as a practice song.

1:15 History of The Sacred Harp tune book

Richard DeLong, a lifelong singer and composer of 494 and 510 in the 1991 Edition, spoke to the advanced class while Jim Carnes, historian and composer of 372, spoke to the beginners.

Experienced class: Opening song: 128.

Richard DeLong spoke about the history of the book from which we sing. Since 1844 when it was first published, our book has gone through many editions: 1850; 1859; 1869 (last edition while B. F. White was alive); 1884 (by J.L. White; used the 7-shape system); 1897; 1902 (W.M. Cooper; reprinted/revised in 1929, 1949, 1992, 2000; still in use today); 1909 (little used; J.L. White changed the harmony to many songs); 1911 J.L White edition (still in limited use today); 1911 James edition (the longest volume, containing 580 songs; reprinted in 1921 and 1929; no longer in use); 1936 Denson Revision; 1960 Denson (poor quality of binding and paper); 1966 (revised because of poor quality of the 1960 edition); 1971; 1991 (the second-largest edition; widely used as of 2003).

The class sang 31b and 31t in both the 1909 and 1991 editions, to see what J.L. White did to the harmony of many songs. Everyone agreed that the harmony in the original book, also the harmony in the 1991 edition, is much better.

Richard mentioned that in 1913, there was a lawsuit over different editions of the Sacred Harp and who owned the copyright. J.L. White was sued by Joe S. James because of his revision of the book. Richard showed the class a newspaper article about this, and another article about a convention of the Central Sacred Harp Association.

Richard then talked about how to key a song. Key from the last note of the song in the bass (this is always the tonic note of the key). Songs in the same key can usually be keyed the same, unless one part goes particularly low or high. Key songs lower in the morning when singers are not warmed up; higher after lunch when the singing is in full swing; and lower again late in the afternoon when the singers get tired. When unsure of how to key a song, think of a song you know so well that you can sing it in your sleep, and key similar to that. The class then sang 197.

Accents in Sacred Harp: In Denson-type songs (lots of eighth notes and moving notes, with a dance-like feeling) accent on the first and third beats. This gives the song a rocking feeling. Richard compared it to a rocking chair. The class then sang 292 and 392.

The class then divided into two groups and played “Sacred Harp Jeopardy,” based on the television game show, which Richard Delong invented for his high school students. Topics included conventions, churches, songs, page numbers, and revisions. Don Bowen (scorekeeper) and Martha Henderson (game board monitor) assisted Richard in leading the game. Certificates were handed out to the members of the winning side.

Youth class: Jim Carnes talked about the radio show he hosted as a teenager. He recorded some black spiritual songs and stumbled upon Sacred Harp singing. In Caledonia, Mississippi, they recorded some Sacred Harp songs; Marie Aldridge was at that singing. Jim showed the class some old hymnals, talked about time signatures, and read an excerpt from the book “Stars Fell on Alabama” by Carl Carmer.

4:00 p.m. Sacred Harp History and Traditions

Jim Carnes spoke to the experienced class while Richard DeLong spoke to the youth.

Experienced class: Jim Carnes used songs to illustrate the many historical threads contained in The Sacred Harp starting 500 years ago and continuing to the present. He gave the history and then the class sang the song. Songs: 49t: an example of psalm singing, the oldest song in the book. 73 (t? b?): illustrates an academic approach to songwriting that was popular in the 1700s. 327: an early example of a “home-grown” American song using words by Englishman Isaac Watts. 110: both words and music American; commemorates the death of George Washington; illustrates the power of music in a secular society. 47b: the spirit of religious revival from the 19th-century western frontier affected the sound and sentiment expressed in the music. 201 first appeared in Missouri Harmony; perhaps Abraham Lincoln sang this song. 160 (t? b?), from Southern Harmony 1835, illustrates the conflict with Native Americans. 128, Civil War era, was sung at the hanging of Confederate hero Sam Davis, by his request. 80t: an existing song adapted by B.F. White for the 1844 Sacred Harp. 410 (t? b?), about the death of a gold miner (Gold Rush 1849), illustrates the growing sentimentality in popular music. 398, same sentiment. 288 and 404: influence of Stephen Foster. 108t & 108b: the simplicity of these songs reflects people getting back to basics in their lives and faith after the Civil War. 436 & 411 show the influence of Tom and Seaborn Denson and capture the rhythms and organization of many fuguing tunes in the book; gospel currents of the time are heard somewhat in these songs. 500: Hugh McGraw took up the Densons’ role of teaching and promoting Sacred Harp. This song is his interpretation of the traditions and the old forms. 547, a new song, is a testament to the bright future of Sacred Harp if we can continue to grow new song writers this talented.

Youth class: Richard DeLong placed a musical scale on the overhead projector. He asked questions and gave out candy as prizes. The class did a worksheet on which they had to draw the four shapes, give the name of the songbook, label the notes, and draw repeat dots on the staff.

Richard also talked about divisions of time; major and minor scales (the minor traditionally was thought of as suitable for sad songs); half steps, their relation to whole steps and how they change the sound of the scales; treble and bass clefs; syncopation. The class sang a song from each mode of time and practiced keeping time. Then they played Sacred Harp Jeopardy.

Richard talked about how proud he is of this singing tradition and musical heritage, including the religious aspect of the songs.

7:00 p.m. Class singing

Singers kept their songs to one verse, to make time for more people to lead. Leaders: Jeff Sheppard 61 (after encouraging new people to lead); Youth: Riley Lee 43; Jackson Harcrow and B.J. Schnorenberg 87; Judith Green and Hannah Baker 384; Tommy George 300; Mary Elizabeth Lee 99; Jeffrey Green 49t; Tina Reddish and Katie Moore 63; Trevor East 361; Alex Makris 59; Brooks Berueffy 124; April Dell 565; Thomas Willard 366 (?); Coleman Berueffy 45t; Rachel Baker 359; Blake Sizemore 186; Turner Berueffy 47t; Sandy Nicholson (mother), Neila Nicholson (daughter), Genny Whitworth (grandmother) 317; Lela Crowder (adult) and Jonathan Taft 100. Adults: Lance Ledbetter 176t; Betty Jones 290; Ken Hallock 148; Lucy Leddington-Wright 40; Shirley Figura and Ann Fox (sisters) 68b; Samuel Sommers 426b; Sandie Scott 147t; Paul Figura 171; Idy Kiser 312 (t? b?); Steve Shearon 127; Marilyn Burchett 29t; Steve Schmidgall 120; Laura Clawson 142; Keith Willard 217; Jeannette DePoy 192; Clarke Lee 542; Jenny Willard 460; Nate and Norma Green 131b; Terre Schill 218; Julie Lee 82 (t? b?); Teenie Moody 430; John Plunkett 354 (t? b?); Martha Henderson 288; Shelbie Sheppard 269; Allison Ivey 282.

Announcements were made. David Ivey requested that students wear their green camp shirts, which Shelbie Sheppard had laundered and folded (all 75 of them), for the group photo and the community singing Wednesday. The class then sang “Happy Birthday” to Samuel Sommers in words and in shapes.

David Ivey then led the class in a game of Sacred Harp trivia, children against adults with assistance from Laura Clawson.

9:30 p.m. Devotion

Julie Lee spoke of the importance of leading our children in the way they should go in life, in church, and in Sacred Harp. Bring your children to Sacred Harp singings so they will come to love it and carry on the tradition. Clarke Lee closed the devotion with prayer.

Wednesday, July 2

9:00 a.m. Rudiments

Jeff Sheppard led a class in different aspects of difficult songs. He also helped students with songs that they requested. Songs: 193; 550; 143; 532 led by Karen Ivey; 542 led by Jeannette DePoy.

David Ivey continued with the rudiments for beginners. The class reviewed the scales and the half steps. The class also learned about length of notes; dotted notes and their equivalents; ways to fill a measure in different time signatures; and accent. The class practiced accenting in different meters by singing 48t, 354b, 49b, and 43.

The class learned to sing in full voice, but to not sing louder than they were able to naturally sing. Each singer should try to match the volume of the person next to him or her and not sing louder than that person. Song 177 was sung to work on soft volumes in one phrase. The class then sang the scales several more times, singing the notes in order and then randomly to practice recognizing intervals.

12:00 p.m. Lunch

After lunch, the campers posed for a group photo in front of the dining hall.

1:15 p.m. Rudiments

The advanced class with Jeff and Shelbie Sheppard practiced songs chosen by the students. Students practiced leading as well as singing. Songs were chosen because they have a difficult passage; they are hard to lead; or the student had long wanted to learn the song but had not had the chance. Songs: 245, 316, 301, 455, 433, 211, 210, 550, 198.

The beginner class with David Ivey learned songs by parts, while the children worked on a rudiments workbook.

4:00 p.m. Lemonade

Bud and Sammie Oliver taught us how to make their famous and delicious lemonade that they serve at the Lookout Mountain Convention each year. Take 6 dozen lemons, 10 pounds of sugar, 5 gallons of filtered or spring water (no chlorine) and four bags of ice, 7-8 pounds each. Cut the ends off the lemons. Squeeze the juice into a 20-gallon tub and throw the lemons in, too. Add water, sugar, and ice. The class got to drink the lemonade after it was prepared.

4:30 p.m. Bringing Food to a Singing

Shelbie Sheppard discussed how to bring food to a singing. She always takes at least seven or eight dishes. To transport them, she packs them stacked on top of each other inside coolers. We saw some of the dishes she makes, how to prepare them, and what kinds of coolers, containers, and racks work best for transporting food and keeping it hot or cold.

7:00 p.m. Community Singing

Some of the Camp Lee staff, as well as people from as far away as Henagar and Birmingham, joined the campers for this singing. There were about 100 people in attendance.

Leaders kept their songs to one verse to allow more people to lead. Jeff Sheppard called the singing to order and led 112. B.J. Harris gave the opening prayer.

Youth (Under age 18)*

Leaders: David Ivey 217; John Plunkett, Allison Ivey, Lela Crowder, LaRue Allen (camp counselors) 59; Julie Lee and Jonathan Taft* 354b; B.J. Schnorenberg* 87; Turner Berueffy* 48t; Mary E. Lee* 53; Trevor East* 63; Rachel Baker* 355; Coleman Berueffy* 196; Neila Nicholson* 274t; Tommy George* 155; Hannah Baker* and Judith Green* 384; Blake Sizemore* 68b; Lela Crowder and Katie Moore* 222; Thomas Willard* 106; Alex Makris* 145b; Jackson Harcrow* 35; April Dell* 89; Tina Reddish* 33t; Stuart Ivey* 186; Jeffrey Green* 49t; Brooks Berueffy* 79; Riley Lee* 300; Sam Sommers 528; Karen Ivey 208; Richard DeLong 392.


Jeff Sheppard brought the class back with 216. Leaders: Laura Clawson and Lucy Leddington-Wright 142; Clarke Lee and Don Bowen 503; Jo Pendleton and Terre Schill 178; Karen Willard and Ken Hallock 330b; Marlon Beasley and Richard Schmeidler 49b; Sandie Scott, Steve Shearon, and Marilyn Burchett 557 (?); Martha Beverly and Idy Kiser 362; Annie Grieshop and Cathryn Baker 318; Keith and Jenny Willard 434; Rodney Ivey and Bud Oliver 99; Paul Figura, Shirley Figura, and Ann Fox 28 (t? b?); Gary and Sarah Smith 146; Nate Green and Norma Green 438; Brooks Berueffy* and Max Berueffy 111b; Jeannette DePoy and Teenie Moody 475; Martha Henderson and Steve Schmidgall 85; Dennis George and Cassie Franklin 270; Henry Schuman and Lance Ledbetter 76b; Susan Harcrow and Ricky Harcrow 182; Milton Oliver and Linda Thomas 321; Ann Webb and Susan Spillman 159; Sandy Nicholson 388; Roy Nelson and B.J. Harris 101t; Eunice Webb and Harvey Austin 303; Joan Aldridge and Amber Springfield 192; Jeff and Shelbie Sheppard 556; David Ivey and Karen Ivey 46. Ricky Harcrow dismissed the class with prayer.

Thursday, July 3

9:45 a.m. Parting Hand

Campers had breakfast, packed their gear, and then convened in the Green Lodge, where they were able to visit until the final program.

David Ivey called the class to order. Certificates of participation were handed out to each camper. The class, which had enjoyed this memorable time of learning and fellowship, took the parting hand to 62. We hope to return next year.

Secretary: Martha Henderson. Other contributors to these minutes: Laura Clawson, Karen Willard, Steven Schmidgall, and Clarke Lee.