Sacred Harp Singing: The Art of “Fa Sol La”

Cultural center will host workshop, concert

On Friday, May 13, Tompkins Corners Cultural Center in Putnam Valley will host an evening of sacred harp singing with Tim Eriksen, who will lead a workshop at 5 p.m. followed by a performance at 7:30 p.m.

Tim Eriksen will lead an evening of Sacred Harp singing (photo provided)

Tim Eriksen will lead an evening of Sacred Harp singing (photo provided)

Sacred harp shape note singing is non-denominational American choral music from the 19th century that began in New England and spread through the south. It  was communicated through songbooks at community gatherings, but reading music is not required. There is a special “shape note” system in which the sounds of “fa sol la” are represented as squares, triangles and circles that can be applied to any singing key. This music is often referred to as  “Fa Sol La” singing.  Some of the songs were composed in the 1790s and make special religious references.

Eriksen, who is also the leader of the punk/folk band Cordelia’s Dad, will perform ballads, Appalachian music, instrumentals and vocals with his band. The cultural center is located at 729 Peekskill Hollow Road. The suggested donation for the workshop and performance are $10 each, or $15 for both. Tickets are available at or call 845-528-7280.

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