A Conversation for Barbershop Singing

Barbershop singing

Post 1

Recumbentman

I have tried to keep my word and upload this Entry in April, but my GuideML is all rusty and the rules seem to have changed ... help.


Barbershop singing

Post 2

Recumbentman

Ah, seems to be sorted now; thanks to Gnomon for the help I sought.


Barbershop singing

Post 3

stalephreak

This seems to be a pretty good overview. Nice job.


Barbershop singing

Post 4

Recumbentman

Thank you stalephreak! It's currently in peer review at F48874?thread=Thank you stalephreak! It's currently in peer review at F48874/T8308859 so if you have any helpful comments or questions, post them there!


Barbershop singing

Post 5

Recumbentman

Now there's a novel piece of linkage. Don't know how that happened, but it doesn't get you there. If however you copy F48874/T8308859 and paste it into the suitable part of your address bar, it does.


Barbershop singing

Post 6

paulh. Following butterflies through the meadows

"The alto part is sung in falsetto"

Not necessarily, or at least not all he time. The Buffalo Bills, a barbershop quartet which sang in the film "The Music Man," happened to have a very high tenor who did all his singing in true voice. I've been to local quartet performances in which *most* of the singers on the top line were not using falsetto. The musical "Annie get Your Gun" also has songs for barbershop quartet. I remember singing in the quartet in a college production of that show, and no falsetto was used, though perhaps Irving Berlin did not write very high vocal parts.

As a general consideration, I find myself getting confused by the outline of the four voice parts in your article. The top line, whatever you might call it, is sung by the singer with the highest vocal range [if he can sing it without using falsetto, fine, but falsetto is not always necessary]. The next line down is that
of the lead singer. The third line is in baritone range, and the bottom line is bass.

I'm glad that you mentioned SPEBSQSA. All in all, a very fine article, except for the slight confusion I mentioned at the outset. I've gone to performances in which there were ten to twenty people on each vocal line. I've also heard groups in which only one person was on each part. The thing is, if you have several people to a part, they can stagger breathing so the sound is continuous.


Barbershop singing

Post 7

Recumbentman

Very true paulh, and thank you for commenting.

I attended some wonderful weeks of barbershop workshops twenty years ago, in the Roaring Twenties festival in Killarney, where visiting American quartets and choruses gave concerts and coaching to the Irish participants and public. One year the visiting quartet was the Dapper Dans from Disney's Main Street USA and their tenor was not using falsetto. The coaches on the course pointed this out to us as something non-standard; falsetto was the norm.

I see how easily voice-names can become confused; I'll try clearing it up a bit more.

Perhaps a few more words on barbershop choruses are needed. It's something I have not experienced myself, except as an audience member at competitions and those Killarney concerts, but it is a big part of the movement.


Barbershop singing

Post 8

paulh. Following butterflies through the meadows

smiley - smiley

I only pointed it out because someone reading the article might think falsetto was mandatory. It's not. It just depends on the range of whoever is singing that part. Maybe a clearer way of explaining that part is to say that it is set in the Alto range.


Barbershop singing

Post 9

Recumbentman

Maybe things have changed, but the coach who said that the Dapper Dan's non-falsetto tenor was not standard was hinting, if not openly saying, that That's Not Quite Barbershop. The sound of a high tenor is the sound of a cappella groups, and groups like The Comedian Harmonists. And he (the coach) was utterly mainstream; they sent over the top winning chorus from the SPEBSQSA championships, and several first-prize winning quartets. Must have been a busman's holiday for them.

The problem is that a head-voice does tend to dominate, and the barbershop tenor must not dominate, except in those few moments where he is given the melody.


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