Pre-show music with Portland Sacred Harp Shape Note Singers
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Join us for a pre-show music performance with the Portland Sacred Harp Shape Note Singers, featuring live a capella (unaccompanied) singing inspired by the multiple roles and voices presented in Macbeth. Enjoy songs from members of the strong, local Shape Note singing community located here in Oregon as they share historic songs from one of America’s oldest musical styles and social gathering activities.
Portland Sacred Harp sing among themselves and the singing occurs with whoever is present on any given day. This often includes every possible level of musical experience and ability, from trained opera singers, to people who sing in their church choir, to those who have no musical or singing experience at all. All people and voices are welcome!
Shape note singing, as a form of music, has been practiced throughout the country since its origins in
New England in the late 1700s. The shape note system was developed to help people learn to sight read music,
and even after the system lost favor in the Northeast, it continued to thrive in the American South, and has now
experienced a revival in all parts of this country and in many places abroad.
“Shape note” refers to the musical notation system you see inside the tunebook. The notes appear in four different shapes: triangle, circle, square, diamond. The idea is to make music accessible and easy to learn by adding an extra layer of information: the pitch of a note can be determined not just by which line or space it is on, but also by what the shape is. Additionally, shape notes expose the intervals between notes much more clearly.