Thoughts on Tune Families

In many early American churches—and some churches today—congregational singing consisted of either a preacher lining out a melody, with the congregation responding, or a cappella singing using words-only hymnals.  In either case, most folks learned the melody by ear.  Over generations and in the absence of notated music, each local church community would develop its own version … Continue reading “Thoughts on Tune Families”

Friendship (to every willing mind)

221b FRIENDSHIP is one of the few folk melodies in A Supplement to the Kentucky Harmony that has a well known, secular source—it was written by George Frederick Handel for his 1736 opera Atalanta.  Sometime in the sixty years after its first performance, the melody acquired English words that are attributed to a “Mr. Bidwell, of Connecticut” … Continue reading “Friendship (to every willing mind)”

200 Years of Bourbon

One of the joys—and sometimes frustrations—of choosing songs for The Shenandoah Harmony   was the often overwhelming number of different shape-note arrangements available for the same song.  BOURBON (13t), which has been in print since 1814, is a classic example.  We  chose two different settings of the melody (13t BOURBON and 260t CONFLICT) plus two closely related … Continue reading “200 Years of Bourbon”