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Sun, Sep 20


The Clark

Ruckus and John Taylor Ward

Holy Manna: Sacred Music from early America and England

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Ruckus and John Taylor Ward
Ruckus and John Taylor Ward

Time & Location

Sep 20, 2020, 4:00 PM

The Clark, Williamstown, MA 01267, USA

About the Event

In eighteenth-century New England, many small towns had their own hymn book dedicated to its singing citizens. These short songs were based on popular folk melodies of the day, fiddle tunes, and the like. By the nineteenth century, as they waned in popularity in the North, these books gained new resonance in Southern religious revivals. The use of ‘shape notes,’ (a unique method of notation) helped make them accessible to untrained singers. By the mid nineteenth century, these hymns were roared out in spiritual fervor across the American frontier. Their widespread dissemination via publications such as The Southern Harmony and The Sacred Harp, confirmed their legacy as one of the foundations of an ‘American’ sound.‘ Paired with these tunes are selections of instrumental music from seventeenth-century England, featuring the mysterious In Nomines of Henry Purcell, John Jenkins and William Lawes. Tracing origins and influence through restoration England, eighteenth-century New England, and nineteenth-century Appalachia, Ruckus and Ward show both the birth of a repertoire and the nourishment of communing through music. Set in the traditional ‘hollow square’ of shape note singing practice, this presentation invites listeners into some of the most intimate music-making traditions of all time where the distinction between audience and artist is erased, and the shared experience of creation and community reigns.

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