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Why don't I like Barber Shop style

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GUEST,Dazbo 16 Nov 04 - 08:03 AM
Leadfingers 16 Nov 04 - 08:10 AM
The Fooles Troupe 16 Nov 04 - 08:22 AM
GUEST 16 Nov 04 - 08:23 AM
GUEST 16 Nov 04 - 08:30 AM
Uncle_DaveO 16 Nov 04 - 09:53 AM
GUEST,Dave Roberts, Salt Town Poets 16 Nov 04 - 10:03 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Nov 04 - 10:18 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Nov 04 - 10:24 AM
Grab 16 Nov 04 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,Mingulay 16 Nov 04 - 11:23 AM
MMario 16 Nov 04 - 11:28 AM
SINSULL 16 Nov 04 - 12:34 PM
jimmyt 16 Nov 04 - 01:02 PM
Joe Offer 16 Nov 04 - 01:03 PM
DougR 16 Nov 04 - 01:33 PM
PoppaGator 16 Nov 04 - 01:36 PM
GUEST,greg stephens 16 Nov 04 - 03:34 PM
SINSULL 16 Nov 04 - 03:47 PM
Once Famous 16 Nov 04 - 04:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Nov 04 - 05:57 PM
The Fooles Troupe 16 Nov 04 - 06:29 PM
GUEST,pattyClink 16 Nov 04 - 10:52 PM
George Papavgeris 17 Nov 04 - 02:17 AM
mg 17 Nov 04 - 02:59 AM
jimmyt 17 Nov 04 - 10:22 AM
M.Ted 17 Nov 04 - 02:01 PM
Joybell 17 Nov 04 - 04:14 PM
Cluin 17 Nov 04 - 04:25 PM
synbyn 22 Nov 04 - 02:14 PM
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Subject: Why don't I like Barber Shop style?
From: GUEST,Dazbo
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 08:03 AM

This is a question that has puzzled me for quite a while and, not being to up on music theory, I can't identify the reason or reasons. In general I really like unacompanied singing, from The Witches of Elswick to The Anonymous Four to Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Yet I can't stand Barber Shop. Is there a technical reason for this (such as the intervals between the different parts, rythmn) that makes Barber Shop different to other styles I like or is it just a quirke in my musical make up?

Thanks,

Dazbo


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: Leadfingers
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 08:10 AM

Personal Taste ?? If we all liked the same things the world would be a VERY boring place .


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 08:22 AM

Dazbo

Why don't you like Barber Shop style?

If you don't know, how the hell could we guess?

Isn't this really a candidate for the Official Mudcat Stupid Question Thread?

Now if you had said 'some people' - then they could perhaps tell you... :-)


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 08:23 AM

It's just that I know in general why I don't like some types of music (such as rap or some styles of jazz) but can't put my finger on any particular reason.


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 08:30 AM

Okay then Fooles.

What makes Barber Shop singing different from say, Welsh Male Voice Choirs or the SATB used in classical choral pieces?


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 09:53 AM

Often our (including MY) likes/dislikes of music have to do not so much with the music as the cultural/social class meanings we attach to the music. Nothing wrong with that, in my opinion. You might look at your reactions in those terms, as opposed to purely musical terms.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: GUEST,Dave Roberts, Salt Town Poets
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 10:03 AM

I always, for saome reason, associate Barber Shop singing with those people who yearn for a forgotten (and imaginary) time when the world was perfect. It's all Edwardian gents with centre-parted hair and handle bar moustaches, and it's all very fake indeed.
I also associate it (and this is for British readers only) with the radio show 'Sing Something Simple', the most depressing programme in the history of broadcasting.


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 10:18 AM

Because it's mercilessly bouncy?


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 10:24 AM

What they now call "Southern Gospel" is Christian Barber Shop without the moustaches. Or, as John from Hull would say, "moustashes." Goes to show how misleading record company labels are... as if all gospel from the south sounded like The Cathedrals.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: Grab
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 11:12 AM

"Fake" may be a bit too cruel. But there's no spontaneity, and often not much feeling.

Also it's often close harmony with several people in the same note-space, unlike choral stuff where the parts are generally fairly well separated.

And of course there's the subject matter and presentation, as mentioned above.


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: GUEST,Mingulay
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 11:23 AM

I'm with Dave Roberts on this one re "Sing Something Simple". This programme could fell an ox with stupefaction within minutes. It was in fact worse than barber shop. I have to tread carefully here as my girlfriend used to sing barbershop and still likes it (she also likes folk thank the lord).


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: MMario
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 11:28 AM

I tend to like barbershop - but it depends on who is singing it and what song they are singing.

Barbershop is probably the vocal equivilant of banjo or bodrhan - when it is good it is superb. the problem is many examples are not.


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: SINSULL
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 12:34 PM

I like Barbershop in small doses. If anything I dislike the unwritten rule "No. Do not sing along".


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: jimmyt
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 01:02 PM

I think the question is entirely valid and not stupid at all. I think Dazbo has happened on to something that can be explained musically. The harmony is largely stacked 2nd inversion, ie instead of CEG (root position), EGC (1st inversion), it is largely GCE (2nd inversion? making for that distinct "barbershop"sound. Also the contrapuntal part singing where not only are there different notes but entirely different rhythms that are sort of compatible, is either something you like or don't. It is also smarmy and theatric and has a fair emphasis on High Tenor and low bass "show off" lines.

That said, I rather enjoy it for what it is, very very talanted performance if it is done well. I wouldn't want a steady diet of it, mind you, but we went to the southeast regional barbershop competition on a lark last year, and it was a very enjoyable evening.


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 01:03 PM

I like barbershop. I love those old, corny, sentimental songs. The harmony style is eay to pick up and not hard to experiment with. There is a major element of barbershop singing in the U.S. that is highly competitive, just like sports - and that tends to exclude those who just want to sing for the fun of it and don't want to spend time and money on costumes and transportation.

I've noticed that many of the quartets sing very little barbershop nowadays - they seem to do more doo-wop arrangements, and more recent songs (1930's-1960's). I love doo-wop.

So I guess what I dislike about barbershop is the competition, and the exclusion of those who don't want to sing in competition. I like singing and sports for fun, not for the thrill of winning.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: DougR
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 01:33 PM

I like it in small doses. Can't tell you why though. I sang in a Barber Shop quartet in college and enjoyed it though.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: PoppaGator
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 01:36 PM

Thanks to jimmyt for the musical/technical explanation. I've known for a long time that "barbershop"-style harmony is called "close harmony," but I've never gotten a handle on it, neither technically nor instinctivley. That is, I can't join in and sing a fitting harmony like I usually can in other styles.

GUEST Dave Roberts pointed out something else I agree with -- barbershop's corny old-fashioned-ness seems to hail back to an imaginary, phony past -- not a real one. I like many kinds of music, modern and ancient and in-between, but my lack of enthusiasm for much barbershop may be partially explained by the fact that it does *not* really represent an authentic past era.

That said, while I've never gone out of my way to attend a barbershop performance, I have stumbled upon an occasional live performance (always a large chorus, not a quartet, for some reason) and been duly impressed. I suppose that I'm capable of enjoying almost any genre of music if it's (a) live and (b) well done.


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 03:34 PM

As has been pointed out, barbershop is unemotional, quite show-offy, remorselessly jolly, and over fond of waistcoats( vests USA??). Now, i love it to bits, but its not the kind of record I'd put on at home to listen to. there's a time and a place...pub, sitting round the table at home. maybe even in a barbershop? But it's range of feeling is not very wide. So you'll either like it, or you dont. Robert Johnson it isnt.
   The great thing about it, which I would have thought anybody could relate to, is the incredible joy barbershop groups take in the sound of a nice chord.


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: SINSULL
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 03:47 PM

Anyone remember the show "Car 54, Where Are You?" and the episode where Jan (????), a famous comedian, judged a local barbershop quartet contest? The catch? Every group sang the same song. I think it was "By The Light Of The Silvery Moon". He was begging to be sent to "Boom Boom Heaven" before it was over.


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: Once Famous
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 04:03 PM

Because i never liked getting a haircut?


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 05:57 PM

When I go to craft shows, it seems that there are three sorts of stalls. There are the people with great technique, but they don't seem to have any interesting ideas as to what to do with it, and the people with some great ideas, but they just haven't got the technique, and the relatively few who have the technique and the ideas - and those are the stalls where you buy your Chrustms presents.

Well it always seems to me that Barber Shop tends to fall into the first category. Extraordinary skill, but not used to best effect. Singing the wrong songs, with the wrong feeling - for me, that is.

When I listen to a group like Coopes Boyes and Simpson, on the other hands, it seems to me - and if I'm wrong, correct me - they are doing essentially the same thing (even if there are only three of them), but picking songs that mean something and singing them so as to bring out the meaning. They are the third sort of stall.

But Barbershop can be fun, espcially when it escapes into the wild. I remember one time when a barbershop quarter, on its way to somewhere, dropped in to the Rising Sun in Eastwick one lunchtime, and decided to give the regulars a few choruses, and it was magic.


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 06:29 PM

See, much better question... ;-)


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 10:52 PM

The distinct barbershop sound comes from a bunch of different things, but I've never heard counterpoint named as one of them, I must be missing something. There is occasional jazz or swing timing which might cause a contrapuntal effect.

There is a pyramidal 'coning' structure where the top line is lighter and only leads at dramatic moments, the second line carries the melody but does not dominate, and the two lower voices are extremely full in comparison. It may be this volume balance, completely different from SATB, that annoys Dazbo.

There are definitely chords typically used a lot like 7ths, and chords avoided, 6ths, and if you're used to singing different chords, harmonizing won't come easily at first.

Our familiar verse chorus A-B structure in folk music is not used, they prefer more varied, driving ones like A-B-C-D-A. They like to go as far around the circle of fifths as they can instead of using the 3 chords God gave us to maximum use.

I was surprised at the interesting answers as to why people hate this stuff (and like it when they stumble on it, kind of like how everybody loves Dixieland but nobody buys the albums), so thanks, it makes me more aware.

I wanted to protest that it's not meaningless or phony except in the wrong hands, but I can see where in comparison to other genres it would come off that way.   I have noticed an annoying tendency of bbshop arrangers to glom onto creepy 50s pop songs instead of more worthy older and newer and better songs to hang arrangements on. I hope this trend will reverse as Letterman-free generations start knocking out more arrangements.


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 02:17 AM

Being unencumbered by experiences such as "Sing something simple", as at the time I didn't speak English and lived 3,000 miles away from the UK, but having been exposed to Barbershop (and the Big Band sound) by the US 3rd Fleet who would give free concerts in my hometown now and then, I have to say I like the sound. Not love, mind you, just "like".

Sure, the lyrics of Barbershop songs will not cause anyone to re-examine their lives or take up arms against the injustices of this world. Dylan's poetry is safe from such treatment. But in small doses, and executed well, I do like the close harmonies.

As for GUEST, Dazbo's question - I need to examine you, before I can answer it. If you'll just go behind the screen and pop your clothes onto the chair there, I will be with you in a moment...


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: mg
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 02:59 AM

I'm moderately fond of them..not enough to join the Sweet Adelaides or anything..they do tend to sing down by the old mill stream too much for my taste...as well as Lida Rose.. mg


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: jimmyt
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 10:22 AM

When I went to the southeast Barbershop competition, as a warm up they had the audience, about 2000 strong, singing and they split the audience and did Lida Rose with both parts. QUite a wonderful singing experience especially with all those part singers in the audience


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: M.Ted
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 02:01 PM

"close harmony" simply means that the chord notes are all within the same octave(the alternative is called "open harmony")-"counterpoint" means that parts are moving in different directions, and when you have four voices sounding at once, it is pretty hard not to have some counterpoint going on--

For a number of reasons, in barbershop arrangements, most of the voices tend to move as little as possible from the place they started--they tend to stay on the same note til the chord change(unless they are the lead), and then they move to the nearest note in the next chord--

The typical song would be "Down By the Old Mill Stream", which starts off by sounding,one note at a time, the G-C-E inversion that JimmyT mentions above(down by the) then adds a G(old) then everyone moves down by half steps for "Mill" and "stream"(the bass stays on the G on the bottom throughout)--if you can do that, you've got the essence of barbershop--but ear fatigue sets in pretty quickly--


"Barbershop" is "novelty music"--which means that it is easy to recognize, gets it's applause with a few stock musical devices, and then is over--it evolved the vaudeville/variety Olio acts, that would sing quick, uptempo, familiar songs in front of the curtain while a set change was going on(or to seque out of an act that bombed)--like most novelty music, the gimmicks wear thin after a couple numbers--

Still, it is fun, and it's roots are in both in the classically based popular quartet music of the late 19th and early 20th century(which often featured many more than four voices) and in the multipart, social singing that used to take place, not so much in barbershops, but in saloons, before recorded music ended the practice--


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: Joybell
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 04:14 PM

From the examples you give of the groups you like, Dazbo, I think it may well be the material that is the reason. Then again.... I recall the first time I heard a "folkie" sing "Rose of Allendale" (Mary Black had just recorded it) and I wondered, "What's the difference between this song and the many hundreds of similar songs from the 19th Century that are not as well received by "folkie" audiences? Familiarity? A well-known singer recording it?"
It's an ok question, I reckon. More to it than first meets the eye.
                               Joy


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: Cluin
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 04:25 PM

Barbershop is alright for about 2, maybe 3 songs.

After that, I'm ready to gnaw off a limb to get away.


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Subject: RE: Why don't I like Barber Shop style
From: synbyn
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 02:14 PM

Recent Ladies competition in Harrogate was fascinating- 37 x 2 songs each- but the highlight was over 1000 singing San Francisco Bay Blues in b'shop harmony during the judging- a long way from a one-man band! When it's well done, it raises the hairs on the back of your neck- when it isn't it curdles tea- rather like floor spots, I guess...


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