Dissertation Index

Author: Bell, Vicki P.

Title: Shaker Music Theory: The Nineteenth-Century Treatises of Isaac Newton Youngs and Russel Haskell

Institution: University of Kentucky

Begun: May 1996

Completed: May 1998


The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing is a religious, communitarian society which is still in existence in America today. The society's eighteenth-century roots can be traced to an English woman, Ann Lee. Because of the nature of their worship, which was comprised in part of a shaking or trembling of the body, the Believers were eventually called "Shakers." Music figured prominently in the life of the Shakers. In excess of eight hundred musical manuscripts were produced by the Shakers, who experimented with a notational style based on a system of letters. The most successful of these notational systems was termed "small letteral notation" by the Shakers. Two significant figures, Isaac Newton Youngs and Russel Haskell, worked tirelessly to make small letteral notation accessible to each Shaker colony. Each man produced two treatises, which were devoted to aspects of musical notation, melody, and rhythm. The purpose of this study is to display and explain the information contained in these four nineteenth-century treatises. This work provides detailed information on the aspects of notation, melody, rhythm, and meter, as set forth by Youngs and Haskell. Introductory information essential to the understanding of the development of small letteral notation is supplied, as well as a display and explication of the tools of small letteral notation. The guidelines presented by Youngs and Haskell on the transcription of tunes are included in this dissertation. The appendix to this work supplies transcriptions of selected musical examples from the four treatises of Youngs and Haskell.

Keywords: Shaker music, Shaker music theory, letteral notation, character notation, American music


Chapter One: Introduction and Literature Survey
Chapter Two: Background
Chapter Three: Materials and Methods of Instruction
Chapter Four: Melody
Chapter Five: Rhythm and Meter
Chapter Six: Directions for the Writing of Music
Chapter Seven: Summary


Vicki P. Bell
171 Shakers Landing
Harrodsburg, Kentucky 40330
kibbles@kih.net or vicki.bell@asbury.edu
606-734-5009 (home), 606-858-3511 (Asbury College)

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