JeSSe p. kArlSberg When the seven members of the music committee appointed in 1986 to revise the then 142-year-old Sacred Harp tunebook first met they settled on a few ground rules. According to committee member raymond C. Hamrick, the "first thing we all did was erect a sign: `No gospel music.'"1 To members of the committee, which ultimately produced the widely used Sacred Harp: 1991 Edition, "gospel music" was a polluting and modernizing influence on what they regarded as the purer, older style of shape-note hymnody in The Sacred Harp.2 george pullen Jackson first described this older style of "dispersed harmony" as "white spirituals" in 1933, valorizing what he imagined to be the wellspring of an American national culture with a white Anglo-Celtic source.3 To Jackson and the folklorists, folk music enthusiasts, and Sacred Harp singers who adopted and adapted the rhetoric he introduced, gospel music threatened to sweeten Sacred Harp's astringent sound with its "close harmonies," water down Sacred Harp's lyrical and theological Jesse p. karlsberg is senior digital scholarship strategist at emory university's Center for Digital Scholarship. His research analyzes connections between race, place, folklorization, and American music, focusing on the editions of The Sacred Harp
American Music – University of Illinois Press
Published: Jun 17, 2017
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