Signal


The sound is composed of a very slowed down and abstracted version of Shape Note Singing (see www.fasola.org ). I have practiced Shape Note since 2008, when I discovered it in my research, while completing my Masters ofVisual Studies (broadly defined) at University of Toronto. An instructional method for congregational, harmonic singing, dating from the early 1800’s inNew England and then migrating to the Southern States, Shape Note is sung in 4parts, acapella, in a social setting. It is highly democratic, participatory rather than performative. The sound consists of powerful chords, and features lyrics that do not shy away from mortality, being written, as many songs were,during harsher times. 


The first verse of one of my favourite tunes goes as follows:


“And am I born to die?

To lay this body down?

And must my trembling spirit fly

Into a world unknown?”


Idumea 47b, from The Sacred Harp,1991 Denson edition 


Signal was featured in the Exhibition Furthest Boundless at the Koffler Gallery in 2017:

“In the face of loss and grief, how to respond? There is noone way, no timeline, since grief often stays with us for all of our days,transforming, certainly, but always present. Furthest, Boundless is my response to long-standing grief, bothpersonal and universal, and our desire to carry on and perhaps even findmeaning in our collective losses. In the studio, it is my impulse to repair. Tosuture, layer and embalm the damaged through painting. To sound the cry of hopewith voices raised in harmony. To reach ever upward, struggling againstgravity, yearning for the light. To create a space for contemplation andhealing.”

Nicole Collins


Credits: Recording and Editing: Frances Miller; Keying: Frank Griggs; Singers: Nicole Collins, Pleasance Crawford, Charles Crawford, Naomi Duguid, Stella Green-Sanderson, Frank Griggs, MaxKelly, Gabriel Levine, Andrew Louis, Jan May, Tim McCready, Frances Miller. Gratitude always to the community ofShape Note Singers world-wide.

Using Format