Past Event

The Many Sides of Shape-Notes: A Distinctly American Musical Phenomenon

A Road Scholar Program by Matt Meacham

The form of musical notation called the “shape-note” system was invented around the turn of the nineteenth century to enable participants in rural singing schools to learn to read music more quickly and easily. The shape-note system soon became a central component of American musical life and has remained so ever since. Shape-notes, which often appear odd to the uninitiated, never fail to provoke curiosity, nor does the music associated with them, which may sound peculiar in some cases but familiar in others. This program will introduce participants to many of the musical genres and traditions associated with shape-notes, and will discuss how these genres evolved into major trends in American cultural history. Participants will hear various musical examples and will have an opportunity to begin to learn how to sing from shape-note notation.

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Judy Wagenblast, 217-786-2430.