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What is barbershop?

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.

Sweet Adelines Regions

1  North Atlantic - New England
2  Border Lakes Region - Michigan and Ontario
3  Lake Michgan - Michigan, Indiana, Illinois
4  East Central - Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia
5  Midwest Gateway - Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa
6  Can-Am - Manitoba, Ontario, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Iowa
7  Midwest Plains - Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska
8  Rocky Mountain - Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Utah
9  Atlantic Gulf - Florida, Georgia
10  Great Gulf Coast - Texas, Louisiana
11  Sequoia Pacifica - Southern California
12  Pacific Shores - Northern California, Nevada, Hawaii
13  North Pacific - Washington, Idaho
14  Blue Ridge - Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina
15  Greater New York - New York, New Jersey
16  Lake Ontario - Ontario, New York
17  Lake Erie - Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania
19  Atlantic Bay-Mountain - Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia
21  Golden West - California, Arizona, Texas, Nebraska, New Mexico
22  Mid-America - Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois
23  Heart of Dixie - Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida
24  Mount 'n Shore - Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon
25  Heart of America - Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri
26  Canadian Maple Leaf - western Canada
31  Quartet of Nations - England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Netherlands
32  Nordic Light - Sweden
34  Southern Cross - Australia
35  New Zealand

International Organizations

Barbershop Harmony Society
The Barbershop Harmony Society brings men together in harmony and fellowship to enrich lives through singing.

BABS - British Association of Barbershop Singers
The British Association of Barbershop Singers is a registered charity, whose aim is to promote the education of people of any age in the enjoyment of Harmony Singing in the Barbershop Style.

LABBS - Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers
LABBS is the only British Ladies Barbershop Association in the UK.

AAMBS - Australian Association of Male Barbershop Singers
The Australian Barbershop community is vibrant collection of male singers from all over Australia, who gather together to sing tight, exciting four-part harmonies in quartets and in choruses.

NZABS - The New Zealand Association of Barbershoppers Inc.
All over New Zealand there are men enjoying singing in the barbershop style. They meet as quartets or as choruses and love to sing with each other and to entertain the public of new Zealand.

Harmony, Incorporated
A vibrant organization of women of all ages, recognized for world-class singing in the barbershop style and promoting bonds of friendship.

World Harmony Council
An organization of barbershop societies around the world.

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.

DABS - Dutch Association of Barbershop Singers

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.

Holland Harmony
The largest Dutch organization for female barbershoppers.

IABS - Irish Association of Barbershop Singers

SABS - Spanish Association of Barbershop Singers

SNOBS - Society of Nordic Barbershop Singers
SNOBS is an association aiming to spread, develop and preserve Barbershop style in choruses and quartets throughout the Nordic countries.

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