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Barbershop please

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GUEST,Simon 10 Nov 04 - 06:04 PM
GUEST,leeneia 10 Nov 04 - 06:23 PM
GUEST,MCP 10 Nov 04 - 06:39 PM
greg stephens 10 Nov 04 - 06:59 PM
GUEST,pattyClink 10 Nov 04 - 07:57 PM
GUEST,leeneia 11 Nov 04 - 10:12 AM
JohnInKansas 11 Nov 04 - 02:47 PM
GUEST,krisInTX 17 Aug 10 - 01:17 AM
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Subject: Barbershop please
From: GUEST,Simon
Date: 10 Nov 04 - 06:04 PM


I'm currently in 6th form college (UK) and for part of my Music A-level coursework I have to set words to music. I'm doing my composition in the style of a barbershop quartet.

Could anybody who is familiar with this type of music please help me by telling me the key features of the style. I basically need all the help I can get, so if any of you know the key features of barbershop harmonies please let me know.

Firstly, is barbershop music in a major or minor key mainly?

Thanks a lot


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Subject: RE: Barbershop please
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 Nov 04 - 06:23 PM

When I was in high school, we did the musical "The Music Man," which includes a barbershop quartet. One of the music teachers told us that barbershop relies on a certain chord (which he named). I don't remember the form of it, but I'm pretty sure there was a sixth involved. To compose barbershop, you take a melody and have the notes of it be the top notes of one of these chords. One of the parts, I believe it was the second tenor, is a nightmare, because it is this man's job to put in the note which makes that strange chord.

Perhaps if you search barbershop sites on the Internet you will learn what chord that is. Another question is, does every note of the song need to be put in that chord? I believe the answer is yes.

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Subject: RE: Barbershop please
Date: 10 Nov 04 - 06:39 PM

Here's a couple of simple definition of barbershop harmony: Definition of barbershop harmony and Barbershop Harmony. Similar definitions can be found in several places on the net. They don't go into any deep technical detail, but do outline the format.


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Subject: RE: Barbershop please
From: greg stephens
Date: 10 Nov 04 - 06:59 PM

I won a competition once by writing a pastiche barbershop pieve once, and I knew very little about it. I regarded the essence of it as follows:
Four part harmony, all male.
Put the melody in the second voice down.
The bass(4th voice) stays below the melody, and the first voice(tenor) always stays above the lead. The third voice(baritone) generally stays between the lead and bass, but can go over the lead in the interests of making a good chord. Ignore the voice-leading conventional rules of standard 4-part harmony, concentrate on making nice chords.
Use plenty of chromatic notes, not just the three chord trick.
Have fun.
Let the chords resonate, pause and enjoy them, dont aim at equal temperamnet tuning as used in classical music etc, let each chord hum and resonate fully and naturally.
That's all I know.

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Subject: RE: Barbershop please
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 10 Nov 04 - 07:57 PM

You can write either for all male, all female, or mixed. Most common is major key stuff, minor is tricky to make sound 'bbshop'. Use nice round simple chords, lots of 1-3-5-8s. Solos, bells and doo-wahs are restricted to a few passing tones or 'pickups', mostly you should have locked chords all four voices working 90-95% of the time.

The lead voice takes the melody most of the time but occasionally passes it off to the other voices, and is the second highest from the top. The top harmony line 'tenor' tends to take a lot of 7ths and 3rds and 'rubs' (right next to lead note).
The bottom voice tends to take the tonic or 'key' note of the chord as much as possible, makes for a 'stronger' chord. also okay to use the fifth. The fourth voice is baritone, it is the garbage or filler line which completes the chords you need to make.

A 'barbershop 7th' is a flatted 7th, not the other one. 9th chords are also standard, often with the root missing.

When you write in bbshop style, it is common to use the two staves treble and alto, put two voices on each staff, one with stems up and one with stems down. Tenor up, lead down. Lower staff bari up, bass down.

If you write for all male, the top staff is actually sung an octave lower than written. This allows you to cram a bunch of notes close together audibly but be able to see them on the paper as if they were all spread out. For chicks, it is the lower staff which is sung an octave (12 semitones) higher.

Google around to find the SPEBSQSA and Harmonet websites and drill down for more info on arranging.

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Subject: RE: Barbershop please
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 11 Nov 04 - 10:12 AM

There's obviously a lot more to barbershop than my teacher thought.

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Subject: RE: Barbershop please
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 11 Nov 04 - 02:47 PM

The "Number 1" resource for Barbershop is probably at SPEBSQSA, the "Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing In America. (Other places have similar orgs.).

"Official" arrangements for a number of songs are at SPEBSQSA: Get Music You should be able to find sufficient samples to "analyse your own theory" of the style.

Since "real" Barbershop is NEVER accompanied by instrumental backup, it's virtually impossible to use "equal tempered" scales or harmony. Even if you write it down that way, unaccompanied singers will naturally revert to "harmonic scales," and the beauty of the style is that it's one of the few places one still gets to hear the "old way."


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Subject: RE: Barbershop please
From: GUEST,krisInTX
Date: 17 Aug 10 - 01:17 AM

An easier way I have heard it is: Lead has melody and voice power, bass harmonizes and has voice power, tenor 1 backs up the bass and has less power than the melody due to its higher notes, and bari is "seen not heard" meaning that they do sing but softly enough to not be noticible while giving the barber shop style

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