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“W” is for White, Benjamin Franklin (1800-1879).

“W” is for White, Benjamin Franklin (1800-1879). Composer, author. A native of the Padgett’s Creek section of Union District, White and shaped-note composer William Walker’s married sisters. The Whites moved to Georgia in the early 1840s. Although he received no credit, White was probably a contributor to Walker’s Southern Harmony. In 1844 White published The Sacred Harp, a shaped-note singing book. The easy-to-learn system made it possible for congregations to sign in harmony without musical accompaniment and also without the singers having to be trained to read formal sheet music. Shapes (triangle=fa, oval=so, rectangle=la, and diamond=mi) were added to note heads to help singers find pitches within major and minor scales. Benjamin Franklin White used the four-shape system and became one of the most prominent figures in the movement of that method.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.