Besides his many other achievements, Roger has spent considerable time working to preserve neglected American music.
His preservation work includes researching, editing, publishing, performing and recording the music.
The most extensive projects have involved music from two of the oldest singing traditions in the USA:
Music in Stoughton
Mr. Hall has received several Massachusetts Arts Council grants for this project which involved researching and writing about music and composers in Stoughton during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. See this article: Saving Local Music
This town has the oldest surviving choral society in the United States, founded on November 7, 1786. Originally called The Stoughton Musical Society, it also has the oldest constitution of any performing musical organization, written in 1787 just a few weeks after the United States Constitution.
His largest project was compiling a detailed listing of singing by two local musical societies and available on a multimedia DVD titled,
"DEDICATION" - Singing in Stoughton, 1762-1987
Also a DVD about Stoughton's best known composer of the 19th century, Edwin Arthur Jones.
Music of the Shakers
The second major project involved collecting research about this religious communal society, the oldest surviving one in the United States.
The Shakers originated in the Manchester area in the UK. Their spiritual leader, Mother Ann Lee, and eight of her followers arrived in New York City on August 6, 1774. This is the date celebrated by the Shakers as the beginning of their church in America.
Their first settlement was at Niskayuna (later Watervliet) New York in 1776, and their first community was established in 1787
at New Lebanon, New York.
Mr. Hall is one of the foremost experts on Shaker music and has written extensively about it for over forty years.
Also, he was the first student to write a Master's Thesis dealing with Shaker music titled,
The Shaker Letteral System: A Practical Approach to Music Notation
(Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY, 1972)
Since then he has researched and uncovered hundreds of Shaker spirituals, performed them in concerts, and recorded many of them as well. He has also edited and arranged over 200 Shaker tunes and written about Shaker music in numerous publications.
He has written an authoritative study of the best known Shaker song, "Simple Gifts" (aka: 'Tis the gift to be simple).
In addition, he has compiled or edited these music collections:
- A Western Shaker Music Sampler (1976)
- The Happy Journey: Thirty-five Shaker Spirituals (1982)
- Love is Little: A Sampling of Shaker Spirituals (1992)
- A Guide to Shaker Music (1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2006)
- Come Life, Shaker Life: The Life and Music of Elder Issachar Bates (2004)
- How Happy Are They: Twelve Shaker Spirituals from Kentucky & Ohio (2007)
- Gentle Words: Shaker Music in the 20th Century (2009)
- Blended Together: Discoveries Along The Shaker Music Trail (2011)
- May We Ever Be United (2012)
- Simple Gifts: Great American Folk Song (2014)
Roger has worked on these recordings as singer, consultant, or editor:
- Harp of Joy -- Soloists & Plymouth Church Choir, Shaker Heights, Ohio
- Love is Little -- Soloists and The Sampler Chorus (Sampler Records)
- Joy of Angels -- Soloists and The Sampler Chorus (Sampler Records)
- Simple Gifts -- Boston Camerata and Sabbathday Lake Shakers (Erato Records)
- Let Zion Move -- Shakers from Canterbury & Sabbathday Lake (Rounder Records)
- The River of Love -- Soloists and Chorus of New England Voices (Albany Records)
- Blended Together -- Interviews with The Shakers (AMRC)
- Gentle Words -- A Shaker Music Sampler (AMRC)
- Celestial Praises -- A Celebration of Shaker Spirituals (AMRC)
- The Humble Heart -- 24 Shaker Spirituals (AMRC)
Two of these Shaker recordings are described here:
Let Zion Move:
Music of the Shakers
2 CD set featuring commentary and 40 Shaker spirituals performed by the Shakers from Canterbury, New Hampshire and Sabbathday Lake, Maine. The recordings and interviews were made between 1960 and 1980. Also included is a 72 page illustrated booklet with all the words for the music and extensive notes by Roger Hall. This is the most extensive historical recording ever compiled of the Shakers speaking about their heritage and performing their music. Much of it was recorded by Bill Randle, the Cleveland disc jockey who helped promote Elvis Presley in the 1950s.
To order a copy of this CD set, click on this link:
Let Zion Move: Music of the Shakers
Love is Little:
A Sampling of Shaker Spirituals
CD released from Sampler Records containing 36 Shaker spirituals from all the major Shaker communities in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, Maine, Ohio and Kentucky. Also available is an accompanying songbook with all the music and extensive notes and a music chronology.
Click on this link for more information:
Love is Little: A Sampling of Shaker Spirituals