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So You Think You Know Barbershop?

Barbershop Harmony Society (engl.) - 13. November 2017 - 21:49

This regular series is intended for music educators and others interested in knowing more about this unique vocal style. Most importantly, our goal is to provide support for musicians and constructive solutions for singers.

So you think you know barbershop?

Admit it: the go-to image in your mind of barbershop music is four guys in striped vests and boater hats. From the Dapper Dans serenading Disney World park attendees to Jimmy Fallon’s Ragtime Gals juxtaposing off-color pop songs with the squeaky-clean image of the barbershop quartet, the notion of the barbershop singers certainly is iconic. But barbershop is so much more than that!

African American Roots, Jazz Flavorings

Barbershop is an American form of a cappella singing that has African American roots and jazz flavorings. It includes turn-of-the-century Americana melodies, the Tin Pan Alley oeuvre, and jazz standards. But barbershop singers have always sung the music of their day, so it shouldn’t surprise you to hear tunes like Maroon 5’s “Sugar” or Estelle’s “American Boy” covered in this fun, accessible style.

Rewarding Art Form

Barbershop is a rewarding genre of music that is accessible for beginning students, but can also provide a enjoyable challenge for accomplished singers, notwithstanding the combination of voice parts in your vocal groups. Barbershop singing emphasizes proper vocal technique; in fact, there is no barbershop-specific singing technique. Good singing is good singing, and barbershop asks for that.

Barbershop can help you build strong musicians. It teaches ear training, sight singing, harmonization, and ensemble skills like balance and tuning.  Try teaching a tag during your classroom warm-ups. A tag is the term used in jazz and barbershop that means the coda of a song; it typically is just a few measures and has a flourish of chord changes. This opportunity allows one to focus on vowel unification and intervallic relationships found in just intonation.

For a challenge, give an accessible song like Auld Lang Syne or Love Me Tender (Aura Lee) to a foursome and let them teach themselves. These free charts also work great as Solo and Ensemble pieces (check your local state requirements). One important emphasis that barbershop teaches is the art of heartfelt performance, as this quartet demonstrates.

There are many opportunities for your students to become involved. Check out the many resources for youth outreach available: quartet contests, chorus festivals, camps, educational resources, scholarships, and more!

Barbershop Singing Is For All

Listen to men sing in a quartet or in a chorus; experience women singing excellent barbershop in a quartet or in a chorus. Barbershop singing is also for mixed quartets and choruses. If you haven’t taken a look at barbershop recently, take a look it now!

 

 

 

 

For questions about how to effectively use barbershop in your music classrooms, contact Steve Scott, Music Education Specialist for the Barbershop Harmony Society: [email protected].

 

 

 

Picture 1: Dapper Dans of Main Street, USA and Ragtime Gals.

Picture 2: New Zealand’s Musical Island Boys, BHS 2014 international quartet champion

Picture 3: youth from the NextGen Chorus under the direction of Dr. Chris Peterson

Picture 4: The Ladies, SAI 2016 Rising Star Champions and Pratt Street Power BHS 2016 international youth quartet champion.

Building Musicians: Resources for Learning Musicianship

Barbershop Harmony Society (engl.) - 13. November 2017 - 18:54

This regular series will examine different facets of building musicians in which we hope to dispel myths and inaccuracies. Most importantly, our goal is to provide support for music teams provide constructive solutions for singers.

Personal Musicianship 

Singers join our chapters for many reasons, but all share the love of singing barbershop chords. Some singers come to us with years of singing experience and they can hop on the risers with no problem at all. Some singers come to us with nothing but earnestness and a love of singing and camaraderie. All should be welcome.

Joining a chapter and singing in a chorus can be intimidating, especially if you don’t feel secure in your singing voice or in your musicianship. Perhaps someone made a joke about your singing voice at one time (see a previous blog post to find out what we think of that!). Perhaps you feel self conscious about your music reading abilities.

In Good Company

Would it surprise you to know that some of our early quartet champs could not sight read music? A research study by choral professor and 1991 gold medal champion bass of The Ritz, Dr. Ben Ayling, showed interesting survey data results of the music literacy of early quartet champs. Of those surveyed, 26.7% indicated that they could not read music upon joining their quartet. Further, 96.5% of respondents indicated that singing barbershop music their ability to read music. How glad we are that they stuck to their desire to sing, despite their perception of their personal musicianship abilities!

 

Resources To Help

Singers join our chapters for many reasons, but all share the love of singing barbershop chords. Some come to us with years of singing experience and they can hop on the risers with no problem at all. Some singers come to us with nothing but earnestness and a love of singing and camaraderie. All should be welcome.

Joining a chapter and singing in a chorus can be intimidating, especially if you don’t feel secure in your singing voice or in your musicianship.

There are a variety of sources for you to use on your musical journey. Try these free resources:

  • Barbershop.org: Did you know we created a free, online musicianship tutorial? It is divided into 4 sections, each with 7 parts. Most of the examples use excerpts from barbershop songs.
  • MusicTheory.net: This website has many free exercises to help you build your skills learning. You can go as fast or slow as you want.
  • Teoria.com: A great site to learn music notation and even work on ear training (identifying intervals and chords).
  • Phitulga.com: A neat site that can help you learn to read rhythms.
  • PitchImprover.com: This is a great resource for ear training. Of particular interest was their chord identification section.
  • SightReadingFactory.com: This website has a several free exercises to download.
  • Eyes and Ears – An Anthology of Melodies for Sight-singing: This free, downloadable book is a great resource to sequentially build musicianship.

If you know of a resource that should be on our list, let us know: [email protected].

Practice Patience
No one is born with the ability to sight read music. The process of learning to sight read is often compared to learning a new language. Please exercise patience with your fellow singers, as we are all at different places on our musical journey.

A Place In the Chorus
There is a place for everyone in barbershop. James Howe wrote a clever book in 2013, called Horace and Morris Join the Chorus (But What About Dolores?), (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). Here is a portion of the book description:

Horace and Morris, but mostly Dolores, are back again for another uproarious adventure. When the three best friends decide to try out for the school chorus together, they’re shocked when Dolores (who can only sing notes that no one has ever heard before) is the only one who doesn’t make the cut. After all, they’ve always done everything together.

In an especially poignant moment, Dolores tried not to feel hurt or angry for being left out of the chorus, particularly as her friends are now too busy with rehearsal to play with her. But she felt both of those things. She finally decides to write “Moustro Provolone” a letter and declares, “Who tells a bird she shouldn’t be heard? Singing is just what birds do! So please take my word – I’m a lot like a bird. I have to sing out loud and true!” Her impassioned pleas convince the director to let her in the chorus and Dolores agrees to take extra lessons with the director in preparation for the final concert.

One of the loveliest moment in this book is the care Dolores’ teacher took to personally teach her. By the end of the book, Dolores most of the time “sang notes in the concert that everyone had heard before.” Is there a Dolores that wants to join your chapter, but is worried about how they are perceived? Is there a Dolores now in your chorus that you can help? 

Happy, healthy singing, my friends!

 

"Six Pack" präsentieren Jubiläumsrevue vom Allerfeinsten - inFranken.de

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 13. November 2017 - 14:39

inFranken.de

"Six Pack" präsentieren Jubiläumsrevue vom Allerfeinsten
inFranken.de
Wie das alles kam, zeigten sie in der sensationellen Enthüllungsshow "Tschingderassabumm" - eine Revue, die niemals hätte passieren dürfen, mit Highlights aus einem Vierteljahrhundert A-cappella-Piraterie und nagelneuen Schockern.

Schweizer können Hochdeutsch - Westfalen-Blatt

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 13. November 2017 - 10:49

Westfalen-Blatt

Schweizer können Hochdeutsch
Westfalen-Blatt
Freude, Humor und Begeisterung versprach die Comedy-A-cappella-Show mit »Bliss«. Und das Versprechen wurde eingehalten. Die 80 Besucher der Kleinkunstbühne der Olof-Palme-Gesamtschule (OPG) gingen voll mit und begleiteten die unterhaltsame ...

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A-capella-Formation Tonikum begeistert in der Stadtkirche - Bürstädter Zeitung

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 13. November 2017 - 0:48

Bürstädter Zeitung

A-capella-Formation Tonikum begeistert in der Stadtkirche
Bürstädter Zeitung
Durchweg a-cappella, also ohne Instrumentalbegleitung, teils aber vom Dirigenten Ulrich Diehl mit Klavier unterlegt, waren englische Songs der jüngeren Popgeschichte, Interpretationen deutscher Hits (etwa: „Wie kann es sein?“ von den Wise Guys) sowie ...

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A-capella-Formation Tonikum begeistert in der Stadtkirche - Bürstädter Zeitung

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 13. November 2017 - 0:48

Bürstädter Zeitung

A-capella-Formation Tonikum begeistert in der Stadtkirche
Bürstädter Zeitung
Tonikum“ – der Name passt bestens zu dem, was die sangesfrohe Gemeinschaft bietet: Wie ein belebendes Elixier wirkte das Konzert der 18 Frauen und sechs ...

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Stimmgewaltig: B'n'T - port01.com

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 12. November 2017 - 19:43

Stimmgewaltig: B'n'T
port01.com
Vor allem die moderne Musik weist immer wieder eindrucksvoll darauf hin, welche Möglichkeiten A Cappella bietet. In Deutschland liefern Bands wie die „Comedian Harmonists“ oder die „Wise Guys“ Beispiele. Eine Regensburger Gruppe läutet nun eine ...

A-Cappella trifft auf Cello - Gelnhäuser Tageblatt - Gelnhäuser Tageblatt

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 11. November 2017 - 0:08

Gelnhäuser Tageblatt

A-Cappella trifft auf Cello - Gelnhäuser Tageblatt
Gelnhäuser Tageblatt
ORTENBERG/BÜDINGEN - Ganz ohne Zweifel: Konzerte der Matzsingers sind immer besondere Erlebnisse. A-Cappella-Gesang streichelt die Seele. Er berührt ...

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A-Cappella trifft auf Cello - Kreis-Anzeiger

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 11. November 2017 - 0:06

Kreis-Anzeiger

A-Cappella trifft auf Cello
Kreis-Anzeiger
A-Cappella-Gesang streichelt die Seele. Er berührt, stimmt fröhlich, verzaubert zuweilen. Am Samstag, 2. Dezember, tritt das Ensemble in der Ortenberger Marienkirche auf. Der Abend hat Benefizcharakter. Veranstaltet wird das vorweihnachtliche Konzert ...

A-Cappella trifft auf Cello - Kreis-Anzeiger

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 11. November 2017 - 0:06

Kreis-Anzeiger

A-Cappella trifft auf Cello
Kreis-Anzeiger
A-Cappella-Gesang streichelt die Seele. Er berührt, stimmt fröhlich, verzaubert zuweilen. Am Samstag, 2. Dezember, tritt das Ensemble in der Ortenberger Marienkirche auf. Der Abend hat Benefizcharakter. Veranstaltet wird das vorweihnachtliche Konzert ...

und weitere »

A cappella im Rothschild-Haus - esslinger-zeitung.de

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 11. November 2017 - 0:01

A cappella im Rothschild-Haus
esslinger-zeitung.de
Esslingen (red) - Die Karlas, die am morgigen Sonntag gemeinsam mit der A-cappella-Gruppe KL.A.S.S.E im Theodor-Rothschild-Haus auftreten, sind ein Frauenchor aus Karlsruhe unter der Leitung von Marie Fofana. Die etwa 40 Frauen treffen sich seit ...

A-cappella schlägt Ethno-Comedy - mittelhessen.de

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 10. November 2017 - 14:59

mittelhessen.de

A-cappella schlägt Ethno-Comedy
mittelhessen.de
HERBORN In der zweiten Runde im Wettbewerb um die Kabarettmeisterschaft haben am Donnerstag das aus Hannover kommende Nachwuchs-A-cappella-Quintett „HörBänd“ und der in Köln lebende Comedian Berhane Berhane in Herborn gekämpft.

Meaningful Gestures, no.2: Riser Placement

Barbershop Harmony Society (engl.) - 9. November 2017 - 23:30
This is the second article in a series for chorus directors and music teams. This article is a companion to a video that HU produced in 2016.   Barbershop chorus singing has two variables that have great effect on acoustic output: riser placement and venue. This article discusses the science behind riser placement. I make a distinction between formation (mixed parts vs. sectional) and placement (how close you stand to other singers).   Physics of Choral Singing

Two key factors should be in mind when placing singers on risers:

  • The Lombard Effect: the tendency for speakers to increase the pitch and volume of their speech as the ambient noise increases.
  • Self-to-Other Ratio notes that the closer choristers stand to each other, the less of an ability they have to monitor their own personal singing output.

The closer you stand to another singer, the less you hear yourself (Self-to-Other Ratio), and the louder you are  likely to sing as a result (Lombard Effect). Most singers in this environment respond by singing with a pressed sound to an increase in loudness – which, in turn, can affect intonation .

Riser Placement: It’s About the Space

Dr. James Daugherty at the University of Kansas conducted a series of riser studies, including two featuring barbershop choruses. He found no statistically significant differences in the acoustics between standing in a mixed formation over a sectional formation. However, these studies do point to an acoustic benefit for inter-singer spacing on risers. That is, it makes an acoustic difference how close you stand to your fellow singers. Dr. Daugherty tested three types of spacing:

  • Close spacing: singers standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Visually represented:
  • Lateral spacing: singers standing with a two foot space measured at the shoulder. Visually represented:
  • Circumambient spacing: Lateral spacing plus second and fourth riser step are unoccupied. Visually represented:

The acoustic result of Circumambient and Lateral spacings is, in many cases, a 2-3 decibel change in the aggregate energy in overtones over Close spacing. The effect was particularly noticeable in the frequency range of overtones sensitive to the human ear, called the singer’s formant region. Human ears can detect a change of 1 decibel, thus the change in acoustic energy is noteworthy. This decibel change occurs in choruses of all compositions: men’s, women’s, and mixed choruses.

Inter-singer spacing greater than 2-ft appears to decrease the quantity of decibel change, thus losing some of the benefits of space. This might be due to reverse Lombard Effect where singers feel isolated and unwilling to sing with full energy of tone.

Participating singers reported in the increased spacing more efficient vocal production (due to decreased Lombard Effect) and the ability to hear and monitor themselves singing (Self-to-Other Ratio). Expert listeners reported that choral ensembles with more spacing appeared to sing more in tune. 

Putting Inter-singer Spacing Into Practice

To implement the Lateral spacing, place the left hand on the right shoulder of the next singer with no bent elbows. Note that the front row may need to stand slightly closer than two feet, and the back row may be slightly more than two feet apart.  

Your chorus size and/or riser availability can affect the degree to which you can implement these strategies. Certainly a 140-singer chorus will not be able to achieve the 2-ft spacing in either the Circumambient or Lateral spacing techniques. Variations can include having a double row of singers on the floor, extending singers on either side off the risers, adding additional steps to the risers, and experimenting with varying widths of inter-singer spacing.

Work with the singers to find the optimal spacing. Some singers may feel like they are singing alone; move that singer closer to the next person. Another singer may feel like they are competing with the next singer; move them slightly farther apart.

Changing the way singers have been accustomed to standing for decades can be challenging, even daunting. Have patience as singers and directors experiment.

Inter-singer Spacing In Action

Enjoy this video of Central Standard singing with increased inter-singer spacing:

Happy, healthy singing, my friends!

 

Chöre wollen aufs Treppchen - Süddeutsche.de

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 9. November 2017 - 22:26

Chöre wollen aufs Treppchen
Süddeutsche.de
Aus dem Landkreis Ebersberg sind heuer in München drei Ensembles dabei: Don Camillo aus Vaterstetten sowie A cappella! und Voicensation! aus Zorneding. Der Wettbewerb ist öffentlich und der Eintritt frei. Die Ebersberger Chöre würden sich über eine ...

A-Cappella-Band „basta“: Gegen alle Widrigkeiten der Welt doch ... - Aachener Zeitung

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 9. November 2017 - 18:08

A-Cappella-Band „basta“: Gegen alle Widrigkeiten der Welt doch ...
Aachener Zeitung
Fünf Männer, rund 150 Songs und 16 Jahre Bandgeschichte: Stimmgewaltiger denn je und mit gewohnt viel Humor sind „basta“ zurück.

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A-Cappella-Band „basta“: Gegen alle Widrigkeiten der Welt doch glücklich sein - Aachener Nachrichten

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 9. November 2017 - 17:58

A-Cappella-Band „basta“: Gegen alle Widrigkeiten der Welt doch glücklich sein
Aachener Nachrichten
Das Stimmkünstler-Quintett steht mit acht Album-Veröffentlichungen sowie mittlerweile weit über tausend Live-Auftritten auf der Bühne und im TV für so übermütige wie feinsinnige A-cappella-Unterhaltung. Karten gibt es im „Komm“-Zentrum und bei der ...

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Reminder on Reporting Death of a Member

Barbershop Harmony Society (engl.) - 9. November 2017 - 15:36

In the case of a member who dies, it is important to report to the Barbershop Harmony Society to ensure the member is recognized and honored. The primary responsibility for reporting falls to chapter secretaries and in general, chapter officers. But, any member may report the information. 

To report a member’s death, email the BHS Customer Service Team ([email protected]) or call 800.876.7464. We ask that you share the following information: 

  • Name of Member
  • Member ID#
  • Date of Death (if known) 
  • Name of Next of Kin (spouse or relative’s name)
  • Your relationship to the Member (quartet-mate, chapter officer, friend, family, etc.) 

Upon receipt of notice of the death, the Society Executive Director will send a personal condolence letter to the next of kin, and all Society mailings to the member will be discontinued, except for The Harmonizer, which, at the option of the next of kin, will be mailed until the deceased member’s regular membership expiration date. There will be no refund of dues or fees.

Note: It is essential that information sent to the Society office regarding a member’s death be accurate to ensure that the Society’s response to the next of kin is appropriate.

Please remember to contact us if a member of your chapter or quartet passes on. This is not limited to current members. If a former member passes on, it’s important that the Society knows. Not only will the member be recognized in the “Chapter Eternal” in our Harmonizer magazine, but further, our districts recognize members during House of Delegate meetings. 

 

zwo3wir: A-cappella-Künstler zu Gast im Pfarrheim - Tips - Total Regional

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 9. November 2017 - 14:14

Tips - Total Regional

zwo3wir: A-cappella-Künstler zu Gast im Pfarrheim
Tips - Total Regional
Das A-cappella-Quintett zwo3wir präsentiert am Freitag, 24. November, um 20 Uhr im Pfarrheim Mitterkichen ihr aktuelles Programm mit dem Titel „Königin sein“. Die Vokalband interpretiert darin einerseits bekannte Hits und erzählt andererseits mit ...

„A cappella Nacht“ steigt in St. Petri - Lübecker Nachrichten

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 9. November 2017 - 7:23

A cappella Nacht“ steigt in St. Petri
Lübecker Nachrichten
Ratzeburger „A cappella Nacht“ in der Stadtkirche St. Petri (Schrangenstraße 3) dem Publikum präsentieren. Unter Leitung von Ingrid Kunstreich machen „just voices“ den Anfang, das ist Frauen Vocal-Pop aus Ratzeburg Das zweite Ensemble kommt aus ...

Ein A-cappella-Erlebnisvom Feinsten - Vorarlberger Nachrichten

Google a-cappella-News (dt.) - 8. November 2017 - 22:49

Vorarlberger Nachrichten

Ein A-cappella-Erlebnisvom Feinsten
Vorarlberger Nachrichten
NÜZIDERS Bereits zum sechsten Mal gastierte die niederländischen A-cappella-Band „Rock 4“ in Nüziders. Waren früher Queen und Sting als Programmschwerpunkt von ihnen zu hören, so waren es diesmal Songs von den Beatles.

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