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Abstract

Since 1884, Benton, Kentucky has hosted an annual shape-note singing event known as Big Singing Day. The singers use the 1854 edition of The Southern harmony and musical companion compiled by William Walker. Distinctions set Southern Harmony singing apart from what is described as the norm for this style of music, that is, the performance practices associated with Sacred Harp singing. Differences include seating arrangement, expertise, and style of conducting, intensity of singing, sonority, and preference in repertoire. Southern Harmony singers have tried to continue the tradition without change; Sacred Harp singers have embraced changes willingly.

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