The Social Harp
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The Social Harp

Title Details

Pages: 296

Trim size: 8.250in x 5.500in



Pub Date: 01/15/2009

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3151-5

List Price: $34.95

The Social Harp

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Ballads and other kinds of American folksongs have been widely collected and studied, but most Americans are unaware that in the time between the Revolution and the Civil War the singing of folk spirituals was as common among rural whites as among blacks. This was the music of the Methodist camp meeting and the Baptist revival, and white spirituals in fact are known chiefly because homebred composers sometimes wrote them down, gave them harmonic settings, and published them in songbooks.

One of the rarest of these country songbooks, John McCurry's The Social Harp (1855) contains 222 pieces, mostly folktune settings, half of which were composed by McCurry and others in Hart County, Georgia. This facsimile reprinting is provided with appendices useful for the study of its sources and with an introduction containing information that throws light on the men who wrote for nineteenth-century American songsters and the reasons for the eventual neglect of their music.

Patterson's introduction to this facsimile is a valuable contribution to our knowledge of McCurry and other contributors to The Social Harp, adding considerable biographical and local historical data to the information given by Jackson in his "White Spirituals." . . . A valuable addition to available primary sources of pre-Civil War music. Its editorial contributions set a high standard for future facsimile editions of this kind.

Journal of the American Musicological Society

Patterson and Garst . . . have given us a valuable aid in understanding life in the rural South—not the life on Margaret Mitchell plantations, but that of the simple, industrious, Scotch Irish folks who are too often lost in the turbulent events of their time.


About the Author/Editor

JOHN G. McCURRY (1821–1886) was a farmer, singing teacher, tailor who lived most of his life in Hart County in northeast Georgia.