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January 31, 2014

Artisans guild's classes on singing take shape

(Continued)

Although Pascarella has a background playing music and singing, he echoed Fenton in insisting that Sacred Harp singing is truly an egalitarian exercise.

“It does take a little bit of effort to get dialed into the system, but it was designed to teach people how to go from knowing nothing to being able to sit around and sing four-part harmony in just a few days,” Pascarella said. 

If that sounds like magic, Ben Bath isn’t going to argue.

“The first time we did the singing school, it was actually, truth be told, astounding to me,” Bath said. “The minute we tried it, it just clicked. There is a certain alchemy to it.”

The singing school will meet from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, culminating with Saturday’s potluck at 5:30. The cost is $35, which includes the Sacred Harp tunebook. To sign up or for more information, contact Fenton at (845) 254-4884 or benjamincfenton@gmail.com. 

WHY 'SHAPE NOTE' SINGING? The term "shape note" refers to the musical notation used in the Sacred Harp and other tunebooks of the era. Different-shaped note heads were used to correspond to syllables, which in turn correspond to intervals on a scale. Some shape-note singing uses seven shapes, which correspond to the syllables do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti; other systems use only do, re, fa and mi. Each syllable has its own shape, such as a triangle, square or diamond.

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