Saturday, October 16, 2010

Barbershop music

With the Sweet Adelines International competition coming up (which I talked about in this post) I wanted to share with you just what Barbershop music really is. And since I wrote a post on the subject last year, I decided to be lazy and just repost it.

By the way, if you don't feel like watching all three videos I recommend that you pick the last one to listen to. I like to save the best for last. :)


Barbershop music got started thanks to bored guys who were waiting their turn in line at, you got it, barbershops! Originally the music belonged to the men, but it's so darned cool that women didn't let them keep it to themselves.

Barbershop is four part harmony, a cappella. I've heard the four parts related to parts of a cake, and it's the best way I've found to explain the different parts.

Bass -- the basses are the plate, and hold everything together. They scarcely ever have the melody, but I think their part is really cool, and would be singing it if I had the range.

Baritone (aka bari) -- they're the icing which adds character to the cake. They do this and that, and are basically whatever the cook (or composer) needs them to be. "Vocal gymnastics" is a good way to describe this part.

Lead -- we virtually always have the melody, which is why we're called leads. We lead the song. We're the absolute best of all four parts. (Never mind that I sing lead and am therefore biased... :P)

Tenor -- they're the sprinkles on the cake, but unlike sprinkles, they are absolutely necessary for Barbershop. They add it a bit of something that you don't otherwise have in the music. A good phrase to describe them is "seen but barely heard."

The parts are called this regardless of who's singing it: men, women and men together, or just women.

At this point I think that more description is pointless unless you can actually hear the music, so I'll let the music speak for itself.

This is the Realtime, which is one awesome quartet. I was fortunate enough to see them live a few years back, and have been in love with them ever since.

This second one is Martini, and is really good. Their lead (second from the left here) is in the Pride of Portland chorus, which I was talking about in my last post. Yes, I've also seen them live. :)

I wanted to also share a chorus, so I picked Westminster chorus. Notice their choreography. Choruses tend to do that. Unfortunatley I have not seen this chorus live. :( I hope I will someday, though. :D

I could add more, but three is a pretty good number so I'll stop here.

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