Sing, Sing, Sing!! Barbershop quartets have a way making the heart flutter. Very often they transport us back to a simpler time or at the least make it stand still. Celebrate National Barbershop Quartet day by enjoying their amazing style, a cappella vocal music, all unaccompanied!
Their music features songs with understandable lyrics and easily singable melodies.
Between 1900 and 1919 barbershop music found its popularity. In the 1920s, it began to fade into obscurity. However, the barbershop quartet saw a revival when the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America was founded. This tongue twister of a men’s organization grew quickly, as did other similar organizations promoting barbershop music as an art form. Today, just under 25,000 men in the United States and Canada are members of the SPEBSQSA.
The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America was founded April 11, 1938, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Founded by Rupert I. Hall and Owen Clifton Cash, prospective members were not even required to be able to sing. According to an article in a June 13, 1938, issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cash was quoted as saying, “All we ask is just that said prospective member THINK he can sing.” Sing! Sing! Sing! Barbershop!
As the name suggests, barbershop music originated in 19th-century American barbershops. Barbershops were a place where men, usually African-American, came to socialize. While waiting for their turn with the barber, these men sang, harmonized improvised songs and created a genre of music that is now known as barbershop music.
A barbershop quartet is a group of 4 men, each with their own unique voices——singing songs in the barbershop style. In addition, barbershop quartets have a signature dressing style that includes bright striped jackets, straw hats, and big mustaches.
Sing! Sing! Sing! In Harmony
The emphasis is on close, carefully arranged harmony. Also, the synchronization of word sounds, and the use of such devices as variation of tempo, volume level, diction, colour, and phrasing. Phrases are often repeated for echo effect. In addition, musical arrangements usually employ syncopated ragtime and other nostalgic song styles.
In all-male groups the voice parts are tenor (here equivalent to a countertenor), lead (second) tenor, baritone, and bass. Lead normally sings the melody and the tenor harmonizes above. All-female groups voice parts are called by the same names. Tenor is being roughly equivalent to a lyric soprano, lead being second soprano, baritone alto, and bass contralto. In the late 20th century, mixed groups of men and women were also formed.
The society flourished, and by the early 21st century it had more than 800 chapters with more than 38,000 members. It holds an annual convention and contests, and publishes the bimonthly magazine The Harmonizer. Headquarters are in Nashville. Britannica
Sweet Adelines International was established in 1945 by Edna Mae Anderson of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Of course, the aim was to teach and train its members in music and to create and promote barbershop quartets and other musical groups. She gathered a group of women who wanted to participate in the “chord-ringing, fun-filled harmony” that their husbands were singing in. They were all members of the men’s Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA). SPEBSQSA has since changed its name to the Barbershop Harmony Society. Wikipedia
With all the trauma in world events lately, make sure you have some harmony in your life. Harmony with nature, with yourself, and with others.
Enjoy life with singing!
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