Shape note music scores

For early American music in conventional notation (i.e., not shape note), see More vocal music.

Eighteenth Century Tunes

William Billings


in four shape notation

PDF of Adams


in four-shape notation

With the original patriotic words by Billings (the version in The Sacred Harp pairs a different text with this tune).

PDF of Chester (patriotic words)


in four shape notation

The notorious atonal composition by William Billings.

PDF of Jargon


in four-shape notation
from Suffolk Harmony

PDF of Madrid in four-shape notes


in four-shape notation

The first part is from Music in Miniature; the second part is a bass-and-tenor composition found in Billings’ manuscripts, to which I added counter and treble parts. The whole is in the style of many of Billings’ fuguing tunes, in which a fuguing section is appended to a a complete (all four lines of the stanza) plain tune.

PDF of Morpheus

John Tufts

100 Psalm Tune

in four-shape notation

Irving Lowens argued that this may well be the first published composition by an American composer. It was written for the early Singing School movement, and thus deserves notice by Sacred Harp and other shape note singers.

PDF of 100 Psalm Tune

Elisha West

Death’s Alarm

in four-shape notation
from Beauties of Harmony

PDF of Death’s Alarm

Nineteenth Century Tunes

William Walker


in four-shape notation
arr. by William Walker in The Southern Harmony

Very different from the cleaned-up version of “Friendship” in The Shenandoah Harmony. Walker’s original 3-part arrangement is a fine example of what Dr. Neely Bruce means when he talks about “Sacred Harp as Experimental Music.”

PDF of Friendship

Star in the East

in four-shape notation
arr. by William Walker in The Southern Harmony

The version included here is the earlier 3-part version; Walker’s later version with an added alto part is less spare harmonically.

PDF of Star in the East