Home > Manchester Folk Festival 2019: Sacred Harp Workshop

Manchester Folk Festival 2019: Sacred Harp Workshop

Manchester’s Sacred Harp hosts an open session for all to take part in this uplifting American choral tradition. Suitable for singers of all abilities, with no previous musical or singing experience needed. All you need is the ability to listen and the willingness to give it a go!

The name ‘Sacred Harp’ refers to the human voice: each tune is sung in four-part harmony, with no musical accompaniment. This style of singing is enjoyed all over the world and has rapidly grown in popularity in the UK in recent years, with groups all over the country hosting regular sessions.

This a capella singing tradition originated in New England. Songs in the tunebook hark back to the 18th and 19th centuries, with their roots in English folk song and the old hymns sung in rural England, which may explain why English folk musicians from The Watersons to False Lights have folded Sacred Harp into their repertoire.

Participants from all faiths and none are welcome: the focus is purely on making music to-gether. Come along to this unique workshop and sing your heart out.

What to expect at the workshop:

Manchester Sacred Harp is a friendly group who get together for the love of singing.

There will be a mixture of first-timers and experienced singers whose voices will help you to follow the tune. You won’t be asked to sing alone, and there’s no audience. It’s all about social singing and the power of many voices joined in harmony.

Participants sit in an open square, the singers in each of the four sections facing towards each other. Each section sings a different part of the harmony. First of all, each section tries out their part of the harmony, then everyone sound out the tune together. Finally we sing it through with the words using the Sacred Harp tune book. This uses shapenotes, which were designed to make it easier to follow a tune for people who don’t read music, but there’s no real need to follow the notes – you simply need to listen and join in – you’ll pick it up as you go along.

Manchester Sacred Harp hold a monthly singing session which is open to all and free to attend.

This event is part of Manchester Folk Festival – an urban folk festival. It takes place from 15-20 October 2019, in and around HOME and the city centre. Over the autumn weekend, they present an exhilarating range of events, with the spotlight on contemporary and traditional English folk music.