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Album Review

I Belong to This Band [coll] – [Dust-To-Digital]

ArtCrimes   1/31/2007   CD, Country

[coll] ???I Belong to This Band Country

The “Sacred Harp” is a collection of religious songs written in “shape note” notation, a simplification of standard musical notation that was developed in the US about a hundred years ago to facilitate untrained singers. This collection presents versions of those Sacred Harp songs over an 85-year span. Although often recorded commercially in the ???20s (as you will hear on this collection), it???s now usually heard only live (or via private recordings) made at singing conventions throughout the US. Shape note singing is every bit a truly American musical tradition as jazz and bluegrass are, but shape note remains a lesser-heard side-route due to its purely religious focus and its lack of commercial exposure.

The shape note sound uses a limited number of musical notes, giving the music an angular quality, with rhythms that are almost martial, and a vocal approach best described as ???unrestrained???. The singing is typically split between 3 or 4 distinct parts which interlock in unusual ways. The performances here range from simple quartet settings to a large contemporary group at a singing convention recorded in 2006. The older tracks show more regional flavor in the singing, especially the quartets where the singing parts are more distinctly heard. Try tracks #12, 13, 22, 24 to get your feet wet. Let us UNITE in SONG!

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