One of the most frequently asked questions about this niche musical craft is, “Why do barbershop quartets and choruses sound different to other kinds of music?”
Well, there is a lot to unpack in that question, but let’s start with how the songs are layered.
In most a cappella singing, the lead sings the melody at the top with the harmonies sung below it. But, in barbershop style, the melody is placed in the middle.
The Sandwich Analogy
Think of a sandwich; you have two slices of bread, the bass at the bottom and the tenor at the top. The filling is our melody or lead.
But, that is not all. Barbershop specialises in close four-part harmony – we place other ingredients between the bass and the lead. This is the baritone part of the song.
Like magic, it transforms a regular cheese sandwich into a brie and bacon baguette! Even if you are not a fan of cheese, you get the point!
But, that’s not all…
Lock and Ring
Barbershop singers emphasise “Lock and Ring” – the chords are precisely tuned, and each of the four parts typically sings the same words. This means each singer hits the same vowel at the same time with a perfectly tuned note.
This tight tuning creates an expanded sound, or overtones, that is four people singing five notes! Suddenly, we have created a brie, bacon and caramelised red onion baguette.
What? That sounds impossible!
Yes, it does. But it is very, very real. And it is awesome! Barbershoppers live for these chords so sing them longer to enjoy them more.
Imagine, you’re singing with a group of people and the chord just “locks.” It resonates. It rings.
No one wants it to stop.
There is a lot more to barbershopping than making a sandwich; there are 7th chords (the ones that sound like they want to go somewhere else), Chinese 7ths where the parts are inverted, the Circle of 5ths (the relationship between the notes) and more…
But, more important than the music theory is the people.
Barbershop isn’t just a style of music, it’s a family.
Barbershoppers come from all walks of life. They are drawn together by the chords, by the harmonies, by the laughter, by the magic of the barbershop craft.
So, this course is about that. Making a beautiful sandwich with family. Yes, cheesy!
To learn more, and to taste this magic for yourself, drop us a line to arrange a time to visit us in rehearsal.