WHAT IS SACRED HARP?
Sacred Harp singing uses a music notation system called “patent notes” in which the pitches fa, sol, la, and mi of the
European scale each are written with a different shaped note head. By reading the shapes of the notes and knowing
their relative position on the musical scale, singers do not need formal music education. Sacred Harp singers
typically sit in a hollow square formation with the bass, treble, alto, and tenor singers grouped facing inward. The
song leader stands in the middle to sound the starting pitches and to beat time with his or her hand as the group
first sings the note names and then repeats the tune using the words. Jenny Steuver, pictured above, leads the group
from the center of the hollow square: “It makes me feel really good because singing is one of the things I really
by Laurie Kay Sommers, 2000.