The Kaw Valley Shape Note Singing Association
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At our August 2015 sing...

At the special sing in South Park

Come Sing With Us!
Beginners are welcome.

Next local event:
Special Time and Place
August 28, 2022 (4th Sunday)
in Lawrence

(in conjunction with the annual
KS State Fiddling and Picking
Championships Weekend)

Our group has been shape note singing in the Kaw Valley (northeast Kansas) since 1991. Shape note singing is a very community-oriented, inclusive form of singing. No experience is necessary, and we charge no admission fee or dues. While most of the tunes in the book we sing from (which dates back to the 1840's) are hymns and anthems, we are a cultural, not religion-based organization. Come see what it is about at one of our upcoming events listed below! On the web, you can visit the Sacred Harp Page or the Fasola Home Page to learn more about shape note singing in general.

For more information, e-mail
or call (785) 749-1356.
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Our Upcoming Singing Events

We will return to in-person singing this August outdoors with plenty of natural ventilation and room to socially distance, on the fourth Sunday of the month in conjunction with the Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships.

Sunday, August 28, 2022, 1:30 to 3:30 pm

Join us from 1:30 to 3:30 pm for our special annual sing as part of the Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships weekend, the fourth Sunday in August. This special sing is in South Park, 12th and Massachusetts, just south of downtown Lawrence. As at our regular sings, newcomers are welcome and the sing is free. There are music contests, concerts, jamming, and kid's activities all afternoon in the park, so bring the family and make an afternoon out of it. More info on the other activities.

Regular Shape-Note Singing Nearby:

City Contacts
Omaha, Nebraska Cindy Miserez (402) 850-8553
Columbia, Missouri Wendy Hofmann (573) 446-1075 or
Penny & Lou Kujawinski (573) 874-1096
St. Louis, Missouri Dave at (314) 776-7477

What It Sounds Like

To those used to the tight harmonies and polished dynamics of modern and commercial music, shape note singing will sound quite different. It is typically sung full voice (no or very few written dynamics), and tends to have more open harmonies. It is done for the joy of singing, not as a rehearsed performance. Traditionally the first time through a song, we "sing the shapes", singing the fa, sol, la, and mi syllables that go with the four shapes of notes (triangle, oval, rectangle, and diamond) printed in shape note music. (So if we were singing the shapes of the four notes in our logo, we would sing sol fa la mi.) The advantage to singing the shapes the first time through is not needing to look back and forth between the words and the music - the shape of the musical note tells you what to sing.

The following mp3 file from one of our sings in 1998 was chosen not for its quality, but as representative of the tunes and process of shape note singing. It starts with one person giving pitching the tune, since shape note tunes are pitched wherever convenient for the range of those present at a sing. Next, the tune is sung once through singing the shapes, and then it is sung through with the words. As you can hear, a few people started with the words by accident, but quickly corrected themselves. Mistakes happen - we accept them. But we also enjoy when a tune falls into place particularly well. Since we are sitting in a square, with one part singing on each of the sides, it can be very powerful when you hear all four parts coming together full force in harmony.

Here is Africa, #178 in the Sacred Harp, sung at one of our sings, in MP3 format.

You can also listen to #217, Ballstown, recorded at our Feb 4, 2012 sing, on YouTube.

What We Typically Sing

There is a tradition of keeping minutes of what is sung at shape note / Sacred Harp gatherings. We don't always get around to it. But you can look here at some of the minutes we have kept to get a feel for which songs we sing frequently.

Tunes sung Feb 2009-Jan 2012, ordered by number of times sung:

Some older minutes:
2003: January | February | March
2002: September | October | November

Some non-shapenote Lawrence music and dance events of interest...

Lawrence Civic Choir - Community Choir in the Lawrence, KS area.

Lawrence Barn Dance Association - Contra Dancing in the Lawrence, KS area.

International Folk Dance - in Lawrence, Kansas

For more music and dance in Kansas...

Kansas Folk Music and Dance Resource Center Logo Visit other parts of the Kansas Folk Music and Dance Resource Center at for information on other Kansas folk and acoustic music, dance, and heritage.

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This page maintained by Brad Levy. Last Update: August 15, 2019