The Brandstetter Tunebook: Shape-Note Dissemination and the Germans of Western Maryland
Barnett, Joshua Rush
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The newly discovered personal tunebook of Maria Brandstetter (1820) reveals that shape-note hymnody was alive in the mountains of Western Maryland in the early nineteenth century. The tunebook's presence in the region fills in a gap left by the usual dissemination story of shape-note hymnody, which emphasizes an exchange between Eastern Pennsylvania and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The tunebook is also connected to the German community that migrated from Pennsylvania into Maryland and Virginia in the early 1800s, and thus sheds light on the musical culture of the German-American immigrants of Western Maryland. Finally, the contents of the Brandstetter tunebook suggest that pivotal Virginia shape-note composer and compiler of the Kentucky Harmony, Ananias Davisson, may have first been exposed to shape-note music by migrating Germans like the Brandstetter family.