Fortissimo is the preferred volume level — the only one, in fact. Singers in four voice categories sit in a “hollow square” — altos facing tenors, basses facing trebles — with the leader in the center.
|Sacred Harp singers meet in north Shelby County|
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“When (director) Anthony Minghella came to do ‘Cold Mountain,’ one of the things he ran across was Sacred Harp,” says Buell Cobb, the Birmingham author whose research is documented in his book, “Sacred Harp: A Tradition and Its Music.” “He said that when he heard it, he knew he had a film.”
Some of the singers that will gather next weekend for the 29th National Sacred Harp Convention were in the movie. Most of the 500 or so expected at First Christian Church in North Shelby County are part of a changing demographic that includes more young people and more from outside the South.
“When I first got started in Sacred Harp, many of us had serious doubts about its ability to survive into the new century,” Cobb reflected. “Then a curious thing began to happen on its way out. It began to be discovered and popularized in folk festivals and college music departments. It’s almost like two orbs that were about to pass each other collided and spawned a whole new wave.”