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Byline: Carrie Seidman CSEIDMAN@ABQTRIB.COM / 823-3673
'Cold Mountain' has brought attention back to unaccompanied harmonizing based on shape notes. In Albuquerque, lungs fill, arms chop the air, and Sacred Harp singers belt it out.
Sunlight streams through the windows of the Friends Meeting House in Downtown Albuquerque, like the heavenly rays in a child's Christian picture book.
David McPherson steps to the middle of a hollow square of folding chairs occupied by an expectant group of singers clutching plastic-covered hymnals.
"Number 282," McPherson instructs the two dozen upturned faces around him, then clears his throat and raises his right arm.
As his arm descends, feet begin to stomp, and musical tones "fa," "sol" and "la" ensue, the volume growing with each note. Halfway through the song, the almost-deafening melody changes to words, religious in nature and undiminished in intensity.
As the final note dies out, McPherson his cheeks as red as the plaid in his flannel shirt from his lusty harmonizing returns quietly to his seat.
"Good," he says simply, taking deep breaths as he rubs his snow-white beard. "Thanks."
There is no fanfare, no applause and barely a pause before the next volunteer leader takes the center position to lead the a cappella voices.
This is Sacred Harp singing. It's not about performance, perfection, religion, ability or even musical integrity it's about singing out, singing loud and singing together.
"They say, if you can hear your neighbor singing, you aren't doing your part," says Lissa Callirhoe, a stalwart of this informal …