Echoes of the Hollow Square

From Wind Repertory Project
Johnnie Vinson

Johnnie Vinson

Subtitle: Suite of Shaped Note Tunes for Band

General Info

Year: 2010
Duration: c. 8:26
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Cost: Score and Parts - $85.00   |   Score Only - $10.00


1. The Morning Trumpet – 2:30
2. Hallelujah – 2:40
3. I'm Going Home / Warrenton – 2:50


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra Alto 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 I-II-III

  • Bass Drum
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-tam
  • Tambourine
  • Temple Blocks
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Vibraslap
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Shaped-note singing has been practiced in the United States for well over two hundred years. It is so named because the music uses a system of printed shapes, instead of standard music notation, to help untrained singers learn how to read the music. Today, the best known of the many shaped note song books is The Sacred Harp, which was first published in 1844 and has been continuously updated since that time. Along with other hymn books from the era, its repertoire of over 500 songs is part of the core of a singing tradition handed down since colonial times and still practiced at numerous singing meetings and conventions in the South and throughout the country. The success of the 2003 motion picture Cold Mountain, with its soundtrack featuring Sacred Harp songs and singing, has helped to promote interest in shaped note singing in recent years.

By the standards of "classical music," shaped note music might be considered rather primitive. Many, if not most, of the songs were written by untrained musicians. The individual lines (soprano, alto, tenor and bass) appear to have been conceived horizontally, often with little regard for vertical harmony, with the result being numerous harmonic clashes. Another distinctive feature of this music is the frequent omission of the third from chords, especially at cadence points, a practice which also lends to the unrefined sound. But don't misunderstand ... these observations are not intended to be critical. The music is fascinating and intriguing and offers a fertile source of material and inspiration for the present-day composer.

The title, Echoes of the Hollow Square, refers to the seating configuration used at shaped-note singings. Each voice part (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) occupies one of the four sides of the square, with the singers facing the center. Participants take turns standing in the center of the square and leading the song of their choice. The suite is based on four traditional shaped note tunes. These settings are not intended just to be arrangements of the songs, but are instead contemporary treatments of the music combining some of its traditional features with a modern harmonic and instrumental technique. The movements being performed on this concert [Auburn University Symphonic Winds, 5 March 2020] include:

I. The Morning Trumpet - Written by B.F. White (1800-1879) in 1847, this tune is in a minor key with a rather martial style. It was found in the 1909 edition of The Union Harp, another shaped note song book.

III. I'm Going Home/WarrentonI'm Going Home was composed by S.M. Denson in 1911 and was the tune prominently featured in the motion picture Cold Mountain. Warrentonac was written in 1759 by Rev. Robert Robinson. Both of these songs have the character of fiddle tunes, so with tempos increased, they are treated as such in this medley.

- Program Note from Auburn University Symphonic Winds concert program, 5 March 2020


State Ratings

  • Georgia: V


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Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

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  • Perusal score
  • Vinson, J. (2010). Echoes of the Hollow Square : (Suite of Shaped Note Tunes for Band) [score]. Musicworks: Milwaukee, Wisc.