Big Singing

Big Singing

Last Sunday in May
Big Singing in Benton, Kentucky, takes place on the last Sunday in May. The event brings together more than 100 singers trained in the tradition of shape-note singing. Together they enjoy a communal picnic lunch and spend the day singing hymns written in an almost-extinct style of musical notation called shape notes.
A book titled The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion increased the popularity of this kind of singing in 19th-century America, and so it is sometimes called Southern Harmony singing. The notation assigns each note a particular shape, thus aiding those who don't read music to figure out the tune. The distinctive harmonies of shape-note singing result from the fact that each part is composed of only four different notes, again making it easier for the singers to learn their part.
The Big Singing in Benton dates back to 1884. Historical records reveal that in the 1920s and 1930s over 10,000 people attended this event annually. As more people became familiar with the melodies and harmonies of American pop music, however, the popularity of shape-note singing faded away. The Benton Big Singing is currently sponsored by the Society for the Preservation of Southern Harmony Singing.
CONTACTS:
Marshall County Chamber of Commerce
17 U.S. Hwy. 68 W
Benton, KY 42025
270-527-7665
www.marshallcounty.net
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