The Shape Note Sing meets in Durham on the second Sunday of each month from 2-4 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Durham. Shape note singing is for everyone – beginners and experienced singers are all welcome. Music is available at the session for anyone who doesn’t have a book.
Sacred Harp singing is the largest surviving branch of traditional American shape note singing. Singers in this tradition sing without accompaniment and sit arranged by vocal part in a “hollow square,” facing one another across the square and taking turns at leading from the middle of the square. The songs are sung loudly, with spirit and enthusiasm, and rich four-part harmonies fill the room. The leader of each song sets the tempo with a simple vertical arm movement, and singers sitting in the square often beat time with the leader.