Hannah's Song - The Music of a Shaker Mystic
Buy and Download >
While her fame as a an artist rests on only four existing works of art, Hannah Cohoon (1781–1864) has the unique reputation as the most well known 19th century artist of the Shaker religion. The paintings of Hannah Cohoon have been reproduced in many forms, from embroidery to prints and her images are known across the world, even if some don't even know her name.
What is not widely known, even amongst those who know about Hannah Cohoon, is that she also composed music.
What little is known of Hannah's life story seems to show that she was unschooled as an artist and created her famous painting from her heart.
She began her mystical drawings in 1845 during a time of personal "mystical excitement". Shaker women often experienced spiritual elation, visions of the spirit land, and music heard during their ecstatic experiences. These experiences were often expressed in painting and music.
While she lived most of her life, a simple life, in the Shaker communities, as so often happens, now her few painting are a monetary commodity for collectors and sell in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Hannah Cohoon died on January 7, 1864 at Hancock, just before her seventy-sixth birthday, and she is buried in the Family Cemetery of the Church.
We discovered a song composed by Hannah Cohoon in a Shaker hymnal.
If you listen to this lovely melody, you can see that it can clearly be used in various ways to create an interesting piece of music. You can listen to MP3 samples at:
We have prepared the notation of Hannah's song in PDF format.
The notation for the melody.
An 8 part score for solo melody instrument, 2 harps, 2 pianos, cello, 2 guitars (includes a guitar part with chord names).
Note: The interesting this about this score is that it is designed so that one can use the 8 various parts to create multiple different arrangements, and as a basis for improvising.
2 scores of quartets using the melody.
Both quartets, played one after the other: