What Are Shape Notes?

Shape notes, according to Southern Gospel School of America director C. Nelson Bailey, are shapes — rather than round notes — that mark each note on the musical scale. The shapes are an easy way to teach and make it easier for students to site read music, he said. “So when you look at a song for the very first time, once you know the shapes and you know the relationships between the shapes, when you see in the piece of music a note going from do up to fa, you know what that should sound like, and so you can much more easily sing that interval than if it was just the round notes,” Mr. Bailey said.


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