Barbershop harmony is unaccompanied, four-part a cappella harmony. Although barbershop music is usually built on simple melodies and is relatively easy to sing, the a cappella style and ear training needed for independent part singing make it both challenging and rewarding. When sung accurately and with good breath support and vocal techniques, barbershop chords produce overtone vibrations that create a resonant ‘ring’ or a 5th note that seems to come from an invisible singer. No other a cappella singing style has this!
- Singing in tune (yeah, pretty basic!)
- Listening to the other singers and blending your voice with theirs in the ensemble
- Holding your own part while standing next to others singing 3 different parts
- Expressing the song through your voice, face and sometimes even choreography
- Practicing your vocal skills, breathing and choreography in between rehearsals
- Learning your songs, using sheet music or learning tracks so you’re ‘off paper’ quickly – we don’t hold the music when we sing
Want more information about Barbershop singing? Download this fact sheet!
Ever heard of Deke Sharon? He founded the Contemporary A Cappella Society (CASA) and was music director and arranger on the film Pitch Perfect. He gave barbershop a great rap recently on the CASA website, likening it to an a cappella martial art! Covering blend, tuning, dynamics, rubato, phrasing, rehearsing, performance and community aspects of barbershop, he summed up this way, “I’m not saying you have to learn Barbershop to be a great a cappella singer… but I am promising you if you do sing Barbershop, you’ll be better than if you don’t.” You can read the whole article HERE
As a member of a chorus or quartet, you’ll learn the skills needed to sing your part smart and have fun ringing some chords!