Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Didn't Make the Cut

This following biographical sketch of Allen Carden didn't make the cut for my upcoming Songs Before Unknown book. Though the version of Pilgrim in The Sacred Harp can be traced to Carden's Missouri Harmony, there is no proof that he wrote or arranged it.

Carden, Allen Dickerson/Dickinson (October 13, 1792–March 21, 1859) was born in Virginia, the son of Joseph and Mary Carden. He is best known as the author of The Missouri Harmony, first published in 1820. Carden had a professional relationship with Ananias Davisson, perhaps as a teacher and agent of Kentucky Harmony. He is mentioned as one of a dozen "gentlemen teachers in Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky" in Davisson's concluding remarks in his 2nd edition of this tune book. Of the 185 tunes in the first edition of The Missouri Harmony, 111 are found in Kentucky Harmony. According to Marion J. Hatchett, Carden’s song book was one of the most popular of all shape-note tune books in its time. David Crouse called it “the most popular tune book of the South and West until the Civil War.” The Missouri Harmony went through more than 20 printings in four decades. In 1835 a supplement was added, and in 1850 a new edition appeared, with harmonies revised by Charles Warren of Cincinnati. This brought it in tune with prevailing "scientific" notions of the day, but perhaps hastened its death. In May of 1820, Carden advertised “a School for teaching the theory and practice of Vocal Music” in the Baptist church of St. Louis. The book's popularity spread from there, but the author of The Missouri Harmony soon removed to Tennessee, where he lived and taught singing schools. He was involved in compiling at least two other works – The Western Harmony, with S. J. Rogers, F. Moore and J. Green (Nashville, 1824) and United States Sacred Harmony (Nashville, 1829). Carden married Maria W. Hyde (1807-1858), circa 1823. They are buried in the Rest Haven Cemetery at Franklin, Williamson County, Tennessee. Carden was a member of the Masonic Fraternity and probably a Baptist in religion. The Sacred Harp version of 201, Pilgrim, was first printed in Carden’s Missouri Harmony.

A Companion to the New Harp of Columbia, Marion J. Hatchett, Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 2003
Missouri Gazette and Public Advertiser, May 30, 1820
The Work of Allen D. Carden and Associates in the Shape-note Tune-books The Missouri Harmony, Western Harmony and United States Harmony, David L. Crouse, Dissertation, SBTS, 1972
The Missouri Harmony, Allen D. Carden, Bison Book Edition, Introduction by Shirley Bean, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1994
“Introduction to the Facsimile Edition,” Irving Lowens, Kentucky Harmony, Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1976

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