Barbershop harmony is a style of unaccompanied vocal music characterized by consonant four-part chords for every melody note in a predominantly homophonic texture. The melody is consistently sung by the lead, with the tenor harmonizing above the melody, the bass singing the lowest harmonizing notes, and the baritone completing the chord.
The melody is not sung by the tenor except for an infrequent note or two to avoid awkward voice leading, in tags and codas, or when some appropriate embellishing effect can be created. Occasional brief passages may be sung by fewer than four voice parts.
Barbershop music features songs with understandable lyrics and easily singable melodies whose tones clearly define a tonal center and imply major and minor chords and Barbershop (dominant and secondary dominant) seventh chords that resolve primarily around the circle of fifths, while making frequent use of other resolutions. Barbershop music also features a balanced and symmetrical form, and a standard meter.
The basic song and its harmonization are embellished by the arranger to provide support of the song's theme and to close the song effectively. Barbershop singers adjust pitches to achieve perfectly tuned chords in just intonation while remaining true to the established tonal center.
Artistic singing in the Barbershop style exhibits a fullness or expansion of sound, precise intonation, a high degree of vocal skill and a high level of unity and consistency within the ensemble. Ideally, these elements are natural, unmanufactured and free from apparent effort.
The presentation of Barbershop music uses appropriate musical and visual methods to convey the theme of the song and provide the audience with an emotionally satisfying and entertaining experience. The musical and visual delivery is from the heart, believable, and sensitive to the song and its arrangement throughout. The most stylistic presentation artistically melds together the musical and visual aspects to create and sustain the illusions suggested by the music.
Pitch Pipe Magazine
If you want to stay informed of the all the happenings of the female barbershop music scene, subscribe to Pitch Pipe, which is put out by Sweet Adelines International each quarter. It's full of news, reviews, and previews of coming events and competitions. For Sweet Adelines news and information closer to home, subscribe to Region 26's The Maple Leaf Express.
As a full member of Prairie Gold Chorus and subsequently a member of Sweet Adelines International Inc., you will be automatically subscribed to this publication, which will be mailed to you semi-annually in the spring and fall.
History of Sweet Adelines International
After World War II, barbershop singing was growing increasingly popular for men. In 1945, a small group of women wanted to participate in the chord-ringing, fun-filled harmony that the men were singing. So these women organized "Sweet Adelines in America." From its humble beginnings in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sweet Adelines International Inc., as it is now called, has grown to a membership of 23,000 women in countries all across the globe.
Sweet Adelines International Inc. is a highly respected worldwide organization of women singers committed to advancing the musical art form of barbershop harmony through education and performance.
Scotland's Harmony Junction
Once a year since 1997 the five Barbershop Choruses in Scotland have met to celebrate the hobby of Barbershop Harmony and they called it Scotland's Harmony Junction.
BinG! - Barbershop in Germany
Since BinG! was founded in 1991, many new barbershop choruses and quartets have come into being in Germany, creating their wonderful sounds on the stage with animated enjoyment.
FABS - Finnish Association of Barbershop Singers
FABS was founded in 2004 to promote and support barbershop in Finland. The aim is to increase interest in 4-part a cappella singing among juniors as well as seniors who have singing as their hobby.