The latest issue of The Trumpet, the online publication of new tunes written in the Sacred Harp tradition, contains three tunes by Bay Area singers.
Julian Damashek, who sings in the tenor and bass sections of the Berkeley singing, contributed “God of Might” (p. 18), a version of which he presented at the monthly Other Book singing in Berkeley last fall. It’s a good solid plain tune, fun to sing, and to my ears very much in the tradition of late twentieth and early twenty-first century tunesmiths of the urban revival. I think Julian’s strength in his melodies, and “God of Might” has an affecting folk-like melody.
S. Sandrigon, who sings in the tenor and bass sections of the Berkeley singing (under a different name, which I shall not reveal), contributed “Die No More” (p. 23), for which he wrote both text and tune. According to his blog, S. Sandrigon is “an imaginary American poet and songwriter.” I love his post-modern verse, and other tunes of his I have found great fun to sing, and to listen to. The present text, with the odd metrical scheme of 188.8.131.52., is set to an air adapted from Tchaikovsky, in the unusual key of F# major (a key used by Billings, but not so common among later shape note tunesmiths). A version of this tune can be found on S. Sandrigon’s blog here.
The third Bay Area tune was one of mine, which somehow managed to slip past the editors in spite of its not being as well-crafted as the other tunes in this issue of The Trumpet. I’m slowly reading through the tunes in the rest of the issue. Unfortunately, I won’t get a chance to sing them because I’m going to miss the Trumpet Singing in the Bay Area on June 23 — I’m on the road, driving towards the National Sacred Harp Convention, and then on to a professional conference — I would love to sing Julian’s tune again, and sing S. Sandrigon’s tune, and all the other good tunes.