Double-click to start typing

West Virginia State Folk Festival

Music, Heritage, and Appalachian  Culture

Mark your calendar for Saturday, June 21, 2014.!

Join us at 4:00 pm at the Church of Christ for a Shape Note Singing Workshop. Look for more information regarding this event in the Folk Festival Newspaper available (for FREE) during the festival.



History of Shape Note Singing


The following history was taken from an article which, Robert “Bob” Cain used as the Shape Note instructor in 2003. Unknown origin or author — word for word.


In New England, because there were no hymn books, people chanted Psalms lead by the Deacon. In an attempt to reform the dreary and unexpert singing, Rev. Thomas Walters published two “Tone Books” in 1721. Soon after, singing masters began teaching people to sing shape notes known as “FA SO LA” using only four shapes.
Later, this system was changed in some parts of the United States, mainly in the Appalachian areas. Using seven different shapes and eight tones to form the scale, known as the “DO RE MI’S.” 

In shape note notation the tones of the key are represented by the shape of the note. Shape note singing is done usually in four part harmony.

go back to the top

West Virginia State Folk Festival, Inc.

P.O. Box 362

Glenville, WV 26351

304-462-9644