"Cobb presents a thoroughly researched 'inside' view of the performance practice and cultural context of Sacred Harp folk. The media that severed Americans from oral tradition and developed a national culture at the expense of indigenous local practice has induced a rootless and nostalgia-seeking generation to return 'home' to warm themselves in the glow of traditional community singing."
On any Sunday afternoon a traveler through the Deep South might chance upon the rich, full sound of Sacred Harp singing. Aided with nothing but their own voices and the traditional shape-note songbook, Sacred Harp singers produce a sound that is unmistakable—clear and full-voiced. Passed down from early settlers in the backwoods of the Southern Uplands, this religious folk tradition hearkens back to a simpler age when Sundays were a time for the Lord and the “singings.”
Illustrated with forty-one songs from the original songbook, The Sacred Harp is a comprehensive account of a unique form of folk music. Buell Cobb’s study encompasses the history of the songbook itself, an analysis of the music, and an intimate portrait of the singers who have kept alive a truly American tradition.
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