See "Upcoming Events" for local events and our picks of regional events.
Note: NO Monthly Singing on July 5,
2009 (We'll be traveling!)
Welcome to the site of the Harpeth Valley Sacred Harp Singers of Greater Nashville, Tennessee. We are not a performing group (though we'll sing for anyone who wants to listen!), but a loose band of people who enjoy getting together to sing and explore the rich tradition of music variously known as shape-note (though not gospel shape-note), fasola, and Sacred Harp (for an introduction, see the Fasola Home Page, or the Sacred Harp Singing Page of Warren Steel). We generally sing from the 1991 Edition of The Sacred Harp--a tune book first published in 1844, and in print continuously ever since. However, we also maintain ties with those who sing from William Walker's Southern Harmony and with our friends in East Tennessee who sing "Old Harp" music from the 1867 New Harp of Columbia.
Fasola music is unlike virtually any other heard today; dating back to the eighteenth century, it is one of America's oldest continuing musical styles. Sung a capella in four-part harmony, it is distinctive for its massive, hard-edged sound, its combination of driving rhythms and folk lyricism, and its spiritual intensity. This music is close to the bone (Listen to this sample). We are amateurs who sing out of our love for the music and our desire to acquaint others with a tradition we cherish. We'd love to have you join us; because we're not a singing group, there's no obligation--and the book is cheap!
Our most common activity is our Monthly Singing, which we hold on the First Sunday of each month , singing our favorite tunes, exploring new tunes, planning activities, and enjoying fellowship with one another. We eagerly welcome all who wish to join us around the hollow square (If you want to know what we mean by a "hollow square," see this). For further information, contact Tim Reynolds, David Carlton, or Sandie Scott. Our next monthly singing is Sunday, August 2, 2009, from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM, at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 3201 Hillsboro Road. Directions: From I-440, Take Exit 3 to Hillsboro Road (NOT 21st Avenue South); the church sits in back of an extensive lawn at the corner of Hillsboro Road and Sharondale Drive, just south of the interchange on the right. There are entrances off Sharondale and up the hill from the Sharondale light. Here's a Google Map. Check the Upcoming Events page for updated information on cancellations, etc. or contact one of the persons listed above before setting forth. We'd hate to disappoint you!
We also join in the monthly singing at Radnor Primitive Baptist Church in Nashville, held on the Saturday evening before the first Sunday of each month from 7 to 9 PM. The church is located on Brewer Drive just off McMurray Lane. The first hour of singing is from their church hymnal; the second hour is from The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition.
We also host two annual "all-day singings with dinner on the grounds," and support two others in the vicinity:
- The Immanuel Baptist Church Singing, held at the church (located at 222 Belle Meade Boulevard, Belle Meade, Tennessee; see the handy map) each year on the Saturday before the Second Sunday in November, beginning at 9:30 AM and continuing until 2:30 PM--with "dinner on the grounds." The next Immanuel Baptist Singing will be held Saturday, November 7, 2009.
- The Harpeth Valley-Priestley Miller Memorial Singing, held on the Saturday before the First Sunday in April at Radnor Primitive Baptist Church, (see the Google map) beginning at 9:30 AM and continuing until 2:30 PM--with "dinner on the grounds." The Harpeth Valley Singing was begun in 1962 by the late Rev. Priestley Miller, pastor of the Harpeth Presbyterian Church, at which this singing was held for many years; the singing continues as a memorial to his service to the Sacred Harp tradition. The next Harpeth Valley-Priestley Miller Singing will be held Saturday,April 3, 2010.
- The Church Music Heritage and Fall Festival Singing is held on the Saturday before the first Sunday of each year in Petersburg, TN at the Presbyterian Church, 107 Church Street. The church is of antebellum vintage, and while this is still a small singing, it is a treat to sing there.
- A recently-formed neighbor group in Murfreesboro has started a new annual singing, the Rutherford County Singing, held the Saturday before the Second Sunday in October at King's Chapel, between Franklin and Murfreesboro on Tennessee Route 96 near Triune (directions and map). King's Chapel is an early-nineteenth-century church that had fallen into disrepair until a developer recently restored it to serve as the centerpiece for a subdivision. It is light and airy, with a high ceiling and a great sound.
In addition to these regularly scheduled events, we are available for demonstrations of the fasola tradition at folklife festivals and other events throughout Middle Tennessee. We also publish the Harpeth Valley Sacred Harp News, a newsletter distributed free to anyone who wishes to receive it; to get on the mailing list, contact the Editor, Tim Reynolds.
If you are an experienced singer new to Nashville, or passing through on a visit or on your way to a singing (Nashville is superbly situated for cheap flights to the Sacred Harp heartland)--or especially if you simply want to find out what we're so passionate about--please feel free to contact any of us through our e-mail links.
Tune "Harpeth," from The Missouri Harmony, Ninth Ed., 1840 (Reprint, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994). Used with permission.
Updated June 23, 2009
You are visitor No. to this site. Thanks!
Questions? Comments? Write the Webmaster.