Sunday, 21 October 2007

Music in the Bread and Puppet Theatre: Sacred Harp and Others

Notes by Marika Nordquist

Music (Sacred Harp Song, plainsong, jazz) ties to the ideas of:

-community –emphasis on music as music, not just careless background sounds
Authenticity of “experience”, live
-cheap art –production is an important factor
Junk instruments

Sacred Harp Song
(refers to human voice = instrument given at birth)
-many songs based on these American traditional hymns and anthems
-4 part harmony
-spiritual, although not bound to any religion as such
-main book used: “The Sacred Harp”, updated since 1844, 500+ 4-part hymn repertory
-sung a cappella
- “Singings” = not performances!!

Procedure of a singing:
No rehearsals
No separate seats for audiences
Each singing is unique, stands for itself, always a new group coming together

- hollow square
-1 voice part on each side (soprano, alto, tenor, bass)
-All face inwards
- see and hear each other
-visitors able to sit anywhere: no boundary to separate
-ideological: COMMUNAL, as is Bread and Puppet

-“shape note singing”
-note heads in 4 shapes
-helps in sight-reading
Jazz Music (eg. New Orleans Dixieland)

-common folk music elements, eg call-and-response
-individual interpretation every time!! (experience,live)
Influenced by:
Personal experience of player
Interaction eg WITH AUDIENCE

Wikipedia: “product of democratic creativity” – whoever put it this way, makes us aware of connection with Bread and Puppet ideology of importance of community, unique experience.

Sacred Harp Song:
“He Leadeth Me”, example of Sacred Harp song type of hymn, found at:

On youtube, several Sacred Harp singings’ videos.

Reading in Study Pack, especially “Christmas Story, 1962”

-German hymn in this found at:

Wikipedia: for New Orlean Dixieland jazz

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