Join us every Tuesday night from 6:00-8:00 pm for Tuesday Tunes, an evening of dinner and music at The Floyd Country Store. We have a Songwriters Circle every 1st & 3rd Tuesday and Shapenote Singing every every 2nd & 4th Tuesday. The music is free.
About Songwriters Circle
Calling all Songwriters! Join our host songwriter and bring your best songs to share with the group.
About Shapenote Singing
Shapenote is a unique singing tradition, dating back to early America. Singers sit in four voice parts facing each other, forming a “hollow square.” Unaccompanied, they sing hymns and anthems in a style that is often loud and raw. It is a participatory practice, not framed as performance. Some folks may have seen an example of shapenote singing in the movie “Cold Mountain.”
The term “shape note” comes from the notation; the notes are written with different shapes- triangle, square, diamond as well as circle. This helps singers to sight read tunes. The most popular book among shapenote singers is probably “The Sacred Harp” but many singings have adopted “The Shenandoah Harmony” as well. The lyrics of many of the songs are religious, but the tradition can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of his or her religious affiliation. All are welcome.
The Sacred Harp and The Shenandoah Harmony are both written in four shapes. Triangle-FA, circle-SOL, square-LA, and diamond-MI. Typically at singing, singers will take turns calling songs from the book(s), and stand in the center of the hollow square to lead by beating time. The first time through singers “sing the shapes”, each part saying the names of the shapenotes on their respective parts. After this ‘practice run’ the song is sung through with the words. As most of the singers in Floyd will be new to the tradition, we may take more time with each song, going over the different parts individually before putting them all together.
For those interested in more information there is a huge amount out there, including Sacred Harp Singing, the documentary “Awake my Soul,” and Shenandoah Harmony. Alan Lomax has some great field recordings from singings in the Deep South. Youtube has a huge number of videos from singings around the country and the world. The singers in Cork, Ireland have posted high quality videos from their conventions. There are also many websites and Facebook pages for regional singings across the country.