Note Singing celebration set for Holly Grove AME

The Holly Grove AME Church Stewardess Board will host the annual note singing celebration on Sunday, Oct. 27 at 1:30 p.m.

Shape note singing is one of Georgia’s enduring sacred music traditions. Many are familiar with the Sacred Harp shape note singings that are abundant in the Georgia region, however many do not realize that a separate, vibrant tradition exists in African American communities.

African American shape-note singers employ a unique note system, syncopated rhythms, and an emotional singing style that differentiates their music from that of the Sacred Harp tradition.

During the 17th Century, shape-note singing was so popular that many communities had their own “singing society.” Although singing schools helped, many people still struggled with reading music. To fix this problem, each musical note was given a different shape (e.g., a triangle, a square.) The shapes helped singers tell the notes apart, hence making the music easier to read and learn.

If it were not for shape-note tune books, the original version of many folk hymns, including the well-loved “Amazing Grace,” would have been lost. Without musical notation, people learned songs through each other’s singing, not from reading music. As society changed, people began singing shape notes less often. Nevertheless, it has survived and still enjoyed by many all over the country today.

Holly Grove is at 400 Holly Grove Church Road, Peachtree City, off of Redwine and Robinson Road. For more information, contact the church, 770-631-7650.