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Re: GSoC 2020: Shape-note notehead encoding

From: Karlin High
Subject: Re: GSoC 2020: Shape-note notehead encoding
Date: Wed, 22 Jul 2020 10:54:24 -0500
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On Tue, Jul 21, 2020 at 7:40 PM Owen Lamb <> wrote:
> Are there any corpuses (corpori?) of shape-note repertoire that I can > cite for my proposal (perhaps what was once used to determine our own > set)?

(Re-sending to list without 4 PDF attachments, ~2 MB. Instead, a Google Drive link is given below.)

I can't say I've completely understood the glyphs discussion here. And
Carl Sorensen's post linking to the design history of LilyPond shape
notes may be a more concise way to find what you want. But otherwise,
if you want cor... corpor... examples, here you go:

The shape-note tradition comes from Early American music. Some forms
of it are still in current use for new publications.

William Walker, source of the Walker notes

The Southern Harmony, 1835 (4 shapes)
This is the book that brought us the hymn "Amazing Grace" in its
most-famous form.

The Christian Harmony, 1867 (7 shapes)

Joseph Funk, source of the Funk notes

Harmonia Sacra, 1860
<> (1942 edition)

Jesse B. Aikin, source of the Aiken notes (as misspelled by the
Sibelius software)

The Christian Minstrel, 1853

For new publishing, the Aikin shapes have pretty much won out - with
the possible exception of four-shape fa-so-la. I've read that Aikin
had patented his note shapes and threatened to sue the Funk-descended
Ruebush-Kiefer publishing company. As part of the settlement, further
publishing there was done with Aikin's shapes.

The rest of these references come from various periods and branches of
Christianity's Mennonite tradition, of which Funk was a part.

Church and Sunday School Hymnal, 1902

Church Hymnal, 1954

Christian Hymnal, 1959

The rest are probably too new for and friends to have
picked up. PDF scans are on Google Drive:


The PDFs were scanned by a phone camera, so the quality isn't the

The Mennonite Hymnal, 1969

Heartland Hymns, 2005 (Yes, Fraktur in 2005. The
German-speaking Mennonite communities were in the USA since 1710 or so
and didn't get the memo that Antiqua has won. The remaining German
speakers are stuck HARD on Fraktur.)

Hymns of the Church, 2011

Mountain Laurel Echoes, 2012
Prairie View Press is probably the current standard-bearer for this
branch of the shape-note hymnal tradition. I understand they're using
Finale with a custom font.

If these examples are inadequate, there is lots more
material available.
Karlin High
Missouri, USA

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