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Traveling Home: Sacred Harp Singing and American Pluralism (Music in American Life) Hardcover – December 10, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Music in American Life
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (December 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252032144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252032141
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #647,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[One of the] most penetrating and subtle ethnographic accounts of Sacred Harp singing. I wholeheartedly recommend the book to all interested in traditional music, issues of tradition and revival, diaspora and nostalgia, and religious life in the United States."--Journal of Folklore Research



"Miller explains every aspect of the musical practice as both an observer and participant. The book is essential reading for anyone who has ever been stirred by singing the shapes."--Sing Out!



"Evocative, nuanced, never reductionistic, Miller's explorations of this vibrant tradition of American hymnody merits attention in Sacred Harp circles and beyond."--Christian Century

Book Description

A compelling account of the vibrant musical tradition of Sacred Harp singing, Traveling Home describes how song brings together Americans of widely divergent religious and political beliefs. Named after the most popular of the nineteenth-century shape-note tunebooks--which employed an innovative notation system to teach singers to read music--Sacred Harp singing has been part of rural Southern life for over 150 years. In the wake of the folk revival of the 1950s and 60s, this participatory musical tradition attracted new singers from all over America. All-day "singings" from The Sacred Harp now take place across the country, creating a diverse and far-flung musical community. Blending historical scholarship with wide-ranging fieldwork, Kiri Miller presents an engagingly written study of this important music movement.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Joel L. Watts VINE VOICE on November 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
Surely, some of you remember singing out of those shaped-note hymnals at Church some time ago. I grew up on the shape notes found in the Jimmie Davis hymnal, signing with fire and points, but that was the way we did it. It was a rural church, and indeed, in West Virginia, we had them too. Shape Notes. Told us what to point. What to highlight. How to sing. Sacred Harp singing, however, is more about just an easy way to sing, but involves a rich texturizing of America that is rarely seen, and written about, in such a positive light. It is the story of American culture, rooted in the South and carried forth through a disjointed diaspora of Yankees, agnostics, believers, and those on the political Left and Right. The author sheds new light and brings an appreciation to the Tradition of Sacred Harp singing which only an insider could.

Written by Kiri Miller, the Manning Assistant Professor of Music at Brown University, it tells the story of the author's own interaction with the Sacred Harp singing community. You cannot help but note her own inner connection to the community as well as her utmost respect while questioning many of the different aspects of it.

She writes,

"What are a Southern conservative Christian and a Liberal queer agnostic intellectual doing singing hymns together, one weekend in a university hall in Chicago and the next in a one-room church in rural Alabama?" (38)

Previously, she noted her emotional reaction to the songs at one particular convention, although she was `not a Christian.' (24) She goes on to describe in warm detail some of the diverse communities springing up in this tradition, all the while calling attention to what exactly establishing tradition entails.
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By Scott on June 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Excellent resource. Great foot notes and bibliography. I was on a religious blog recently commenting upon traditional vs contemporary worship traditions. A country church in Virginia had dissolved over the music issue and reformed as traditional. I asked the blog owner if the congregation observed the Sacred Harp. The blogger was unfamiliar, did some diligence, and termed it "fascinating!" Subsequent participants also indicated their interest in becoming familiar with the Sacred Harp. In my town I showed a copy of a reproduction of an old Stamps Baxter shape note hymnal. The owner, also a singer, was completely unfamiliar and immediately did a search on available resources. I then opened my copy of Sacred Harp, and she was speechless! It was a "learning" moment.
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Traveling Home: Sacred Harp Singing and American Pluralism (Music in American Life)
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