The origins of this uniquely American music predate our nation. The base material in the form of hymns and folk tunes floated over the Atlantic with the early settlers. Here they were transformed into 3- and 4-part songs, to be sung a cappella, with each part miraculously melodious. This new music was spread to a musically illiterate population via singing schools and itinerant singing masters who were often the composers of the songs.
The harmonies achieved by these untrained early American composers were so rich and delightful as to border on the sinful. In fact, that was exactly the opinion of the trained choirmasters who followed and essentially exterminated this music in the Northeast and Midwest where it had become established. In the deep South, however, it found a more enduring home.
Either because of its “illegitimate harmonies” or because of its “folk theology,” shape note music has seldom found its way into church services. It is sung in homes and gatherings and conventions, but rarely “performed.” Anyone may articipate and become part of it. No musical experience is necessary to join us at the Golden Gate Convention. All parts will be strongly supported and you will be carried by the wave of music surrounding you. The curious are welcome to listen, but be warned: this music is contagious!
Official Website: http://fasola.org/sf/goldengate/
Added by Halmonster on April 18, 2008