As this is published, I will be at the European Barbershop Convention watching other choruses perform and preparing to compete with my own chorus. So, what better day to talk about barbershop than today?
Barbershop is not the most popular musical genre. I think the general impression is of a quartet of men in funny hats and bow ties captured in black-and-white singing a nice, but maybe a bit boring, song in four part harmony. This is not my experience of barbershop at all. Just have a look at this:
That was The White Rosettes – in my opinion, and many other people’s, the best women’s chorus in the country. A fantastic and exciting performance that’s a far cry from the ‘traditional barbershop’ image.
Yes, at the convention I will see lots of costume changes and choreo like the video above. But it probably doesn’t surprise anyone that the music is my favourite part! Here’s something you might not know about barbershop: when the four parts are sung exactly in tune and with the same vowel sound the chorus or quartet creates an overtone. Sometimes this overtone is so strong that it sounds like a fifth part is singing too! And if it’s done really well the air feels like it’s vibrating. It’s a magical sound.
It’s one of those things that is difficult to capture on video. The ‘ring’ doesn’t always come across on a recording, but see if you can hear it on this video:
So, that’s a very short intro to barbershop. There are barbershop choruses everywhere, so if you liked what you heard here find a local chorus and give it a go! Disclaimer: it might take over your life…
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