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Songbooks: A History

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Four Shape Songbooks and the Sacred Harp

Beginning in the mid 19th century, a wide variety of songbooks were published in and around the West Georgia region.  These books, from the Sacred Harp to the seven-shape, soft-cover convention songbooks, influenced the way singers in the area performed their music, and they became part of the traditions carried

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Seven Shape Songbooks

With the introduction of the Jesse Aiken’s Christian Minstrel in 1846, a seven-shape, European-influenced system of notation gained popularity in the country.  This book assigned a distinct shape to each note of the scale – doe, ray, mee, faw, sol, law, and see.  Aiken claimed that his notation was superior

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A.J. Showalter Comes to Dalton

A.J. Showalter, a native of Cherry Grove, Virginia, was from the same musical family as Joseph Funk and Aldine Kieffer and began his career as a singing school teacher. He published several songbooks through the Ruebush-Kieffer company before being sent to Dalton, Georgia for the purpose of starting a branch

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Stamps-Baxter, Vaughan and Gospel Quartets

Other companies like the Stamps-Baxter Publishing Company and the James D. Vaughan Publishing Company would follow the example of Showalter, putting out impressive numbers of soft-cover songbooks in the early years of the 20th century.  With the rise of radio, these companies even began to hire gospel quartets in different