|About us | Our Upcoming Events | Regional Events | Hear It! | What We Sing | More Music & Dance|
At one of our regular Lawrence sings
Come Sing With Us!
Beginners are welcome.
Our group has been shape note singing in the Kaw Valley (northeast Kansas) since 1991. Shape note singing is a very community-oriented, inclusive form of singing. No experienc is necessary, and we charge no admission fee or dues. While most of the tunes in the book we sing from (which dates back to the 1840's) are hymns and anthems, we are a cultural, not religion-based organization. Come see what it is about at one of our upcoming events listed below! On the web, you can visit the Sacred Harp Page or the Fasola Home Page to learn more about shape note singing in general.
We sing monthly, usually on the third Sunday of the month, with occasional adjustment due to holidays and special events. Our usual location is Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Lawrence, but it sometimes varies. Check back here for details on our next sings!
Saturday, December 7, 1:30pm to 3pm
Join us at a special time and place, from 1:30pm to 3pm at the Shawnee Indian Mission, 3403 West 53rd in Fairway (Kansas City area) in conjunction with their Holiday Open House. As usual at our regular sings, newcomers are welcome and the sing is free. You can find a map here.
Saturday, December 14
Join us for our annual special shape-note sing at Missouri Town 1855.
Missouri Town 1855 is a living history site, so unlike our usual sings, we do our best to dress in 1855-appropriate attire in keeping with the nature of the site. You can call Gary Sutton (well before the event) at (816) 246-1752 and he will put something aside for you at the costume shop. (Allow time to change clothes if you do this.)
Those singing at this event pay no entrance fee, since we are part of the attraction. You can find more info about Missouri Town 1855 at http://www.jacksongov.org/content/3279/3838/3863.aspx. View a printable map (.pdf)
E-mail us at or give us a call at 785-749-1356 if you think you might be attending (we'd like to get an approximate count ahead of time), or if you have questions or want to car pool.
Here are some suggestions from Missouri Town about appropriate attire:
Directions to our regular location: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
If you are coming in to Lawrence from the east on K-10, stay on 23rd Street until you reach Inverness, then turn right.
If you are coming in on I-70, get off at the West Lawrence exit (US-59). Go south to Clinton Parkway (23rd Street) and turn right. Go west on Clinton Parkway to Inverness, and turn right again.
Either way, the church will be on the left hand side as you proceed north on Inverness.
Questions about our sings? phone Brad at 785-749-1356.
Regular Shape-Note Singing Nearby:
To those used to the tight harmonies and polished dynamics of modern and commercial music, shape note singing will sound quite different. It is typically sung full voice (no or very few written dynamics), and tends to have more open harmonies. It is done for the joy of singing, not as a rehearsed performance. Traditionally the first time through a song, we "sing the shapes", singing the fa, sol, la, and mi syllables that go with the four shapes of notes (triangle, oval, rectangle, and diamond) printed in shape note music. (So if we were singing the shapes of the four notes in our logo, we would sing sol fa la mi.) The advantage to singing the shapes the first time through is not needing to look back and forth between the words and the music - the shape of the musical note tells you what to sing.
The following mp3 file from one of our sings in 1998 was chosen not for its quality, but as representative of the tunes and process of shape note singing. It starts with one person giving pitching the tune, since shape note tunes are pitched wherever convenient for the range of those present at a sing. Next, the tune is sung once through singing the shapes, and then it is sung through with the words. As you can hear, a few people started with the words by accident, but quickly corrected themselves. Mistakes happen - we accept them. But we also enjoy when a tune falls into place particularly well. Since we are sitting in a square, with one part singing on each of the sides, it can be very powerful when you hear all four parts coming together full force in harmony.
You can also listen to #217, Ballstown, recorded at our Feb 4, 2012 sing, on YouTube.
There is a tradition of keeping minutes of what is sung at shape note / Sacred Harp gatherings.
We don't always get around to it. But you can look here at some of the minutes we have kept to get a
feel for which songs we sing frequently.
Tunes sung Feb 2009-Jan 2012, ordered by number of times sung:
West Side Folk - Folk Concert Series in the Lawrence, KS area.
Lawrence Barn Dance Association - Contra Dancing in the Lawrence, KS area.
International Folk Dance - in Lawrence, Kansas
Back to top of KVSNSA Calendar
Please bookmark this page as www.kawshapenote.org.
This page maintained by Brad Levy. Last Update: 4 December, 2013