It’s absolutely gorgeous to listen to.
That’s all you need to know if you’re new the world of Sacred Harp Singing, a US folk tradition that has been thriving in Cork for over a decade.
To join in, all you need to bring is your very own Sacred Harp (don’t worry; it’s just a reference to the human voice), and the Cork group meets for a relaxed weekly session in the Unitarian Church on Princes Street on Thursdays, from 7pm to 9pm.
‘We do not have rehearsals; we simply meet weekly sing for pure enjoyment.’ explains their website. ‘There is no conductor or director – anyone who wishes to choose and lead a song from the book can do so.’
The weekly sing is often followed by a social beverage too.
This week there’s another opportunity to check them out or join in; the ninth annual Cork Sacred Harp All-Day Singing takes place in St. Finbarre’s Hall, Dean Street, Cork on Saturday, August 24th.
From 10.30am until 4pm, seasoned shape note singers from all over Ireland and Europe will be using their full natural voices to ‘produce a powerful sound capable of booming down corridors and rattling windowpanes’.
To make it easier for beginners, Sacred Harp music uses an 18th Century system of shaped notes (squares, triangles, circles, and diamonds) to represent the solfège syllables (e.g. fa, so, la, and mi) of the scale.
To learn a new tune, participants first sing the notes on the page as syllables before singing the song with the words.
Intrigued? Check out the Cork Sacred Harp Facebook page for updates.