What is barbershop?

Barbershop music is sung by four voices, unaccompanied:

Lead - Set the tone of the piece. You are the storyteller so TELL that story, with feeling and CONFIDENCE. You're leading the tone of this performance, so put it out there solidly. If you are weak or hesitant on what you're trying to accomplish with the song and story, the others won't know what to do.

Bass - Set that primary interval to the Lead solidly, following tone and intensity you have all agreed on. The two of you create the foundation that the Tenor and Bari have to match. Again, sing with confidence. Coordinate with the Lead to make sure the two of you together know how you wish to properly set that tone.

Tenor  - Focus on the tracking the Lead-Bass combo, not the Bari. Match their performance, watching your intervals and especially your intensity when in certain interval positions. Listen for and seek overtones, which will already start emerging even with only the three of you singing in proper sync.

Bari  - Listen Listen Listen, Blend Blend Blend! You are the roundout member of this group. You have a tremendous responsibility. Since you have to take whatever note is left of the chord in the arrangement, it is up to you to be VERY conscious of constantly modulating your intensity and tonality to properly match the other three parts, depending on (a) where you are in the chord, and (b) whether you are over or under the Lead. THEY set the tone and intensity, but once THEIR intervals are locked to each other and start the ringing process, YOUR performance done correctly will make that chord EXPLODE.

But don't worry... If the other three have done their jobs, there's only ONE obvious, glaring place for the Bari to be.

When you are all finally matched in tone, volume, balance, and vowels, the overtones explode. To your surprise, you will suddenly find you are singing with more than one voice in your pipes. The overtones will emerge from your own throat along with the tones you are controlling as a synergistic effect. This is the time when the hairs start to rise on your arms and you know that all of your hard work has finally paid off.

--- By Keith "What part do you need?" McClary





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What is Barbershop?

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