Inventions from the Sacred Harp

From Wind Repertory Project
James Curnow

James Curnow

General Info

Year: 2005
Duration: c. 9:35
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Curnow Music Press
Cost: Score and Parts - $129.00   |   Score Only - $28.950


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Snare Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Chimes
  • Marimba
  • Mark Tree
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Commissioned by the East Mecklenburg High School Band and Booster Club, Charlotte, North Carolina, and dedicated to Mr. Scott A. Clowes, Director of Bands, in appreciation of his 17 years of service to the East Mecklenburg High School Band Program.

- Program Note from score

This original work for wind band is based on a hymn tune titled Resignation, a simple, beautiful tune with the text taken from Psalm 23. The anonymous tune is at least as old as 1828. It is often sung with the words “My Shepard Will Supply My Need.” The term “Sacred Harp” refers to the human voice. The name of the tradition comes from the title of the shape-note book from which the music is sung, The Sacred Harp. This book exists today in various editions. “Shape note” music means that the notes are printed in special shapes that help the reader fluently identify them on the musical scale. When Sacred Harp singers begin a song, they normally start by singing it with the appropriate syllable for each pitch, using the shapes to guide them. For those in the group not yet familiar with the song, the shapes help with the task of sight-reading. The process of reading through the song with the shapes also helps fix the notes in memory. Once the shapes have been sung, the group then sings the verses of the song with their printed words.

The original core of music in The Sacred Harp, first published in 1844, consists of hymn tunes by late 18th- and early 19th-century New England composers such as William Billings, Daniel Read, Timothy Swan, and Jeremiah Ingalls, who were influenced by 18th-century English rural church music. The book also contained early 19th-century Southern folk hymn tunes and spirituals often derived from secular British or Irish folk melodies and harmonized by tunebook compilers. This three- or four-part music did not imitate European musical tastes of the time but instead exhibited a stark, rugged, and often lively style representing a fusion of elements of Anglo-Celtic folk music with those of Medieval to Baroque European church music. These musical gems were set to powerful Judeo-Christian texts popular at the time, many written by the English clergymen Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, and John Newton. A few texts are patriotic rather than religious.

- Program Note from San Luis Obispo Wind Ensemble concert program, 11 December 2010


State Ratings

  • North Carolina: VI


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Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


None discovered thus far.