The historical and musical correlation of "The southern harmony and musical companion" with Donald Grantham's "Southern harmony"



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The purpose of this study is to examine the historical and musical correlation between the shaped-note hymn book, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion and Donald Grantham’s composition Southern Harmony, which is based on the hymn book. The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion was first published in 1835 by William “Singin’ Billy” Walker of Spartanburg, South Carolina. This study begins by exploring the historical background of the shaped-note music tradition, and the importance of William Walker and The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion within the genre. From that point, the characteristics of the shaped-note music tradition specific to Walker’s hymnbook are examined, and the manner in which that style and musical language then manifests itself in Grantham’s composition. Five hymn tunes from Walker’s book are used for the basis of this four-movement composition. In the first three movements, Grantham sets hymns that are intertwined with his own newly composed material. Two hymn tunes are integrated, again with Grantham’s original material, to create a “modified rondo” form for the last movement. Each hymn tune is briefly presented and surveyed, followed by a formal and motivic analysis of each movement from the work. Finally, performance considerations are then regarded for each movement.