What is Barbershop?

What is barbershop?

Barbershop music is sung a cappella (unaccompanied) with four voice parts.  Tenor, the highest part, is sung above the melody.  Lead, one of the 2 middle parts, is generally the melody, although occasionally the melody line will transfer temporarily to one of the other parts.   Baritone, also a middle part, is harmony usually below the melody.   Bass, the lowest part, is the foundation harmony sung below the melody.   This wide range of voice parts offers women with high or low voices a comfortable part to sing.

Bay Area Showcase Chorus sings songs in the traditional barbershop style, as well as more contemporary audience favorites.   Our current repertoire includes numbers by rock group Queen and the Beach Boys, as well as songs from TV and the musical "Wicked."

Pitch Pipe Magazine

If you want to stay informed of the all the happenings of the female barbershop music scene, subscribe to Pitch Pipe, which is published by Sweet Adelines International each quarter. It's full of news, reviews, and previews of coming events and competitions.

Barbershop music features songs with understandable lyrics and easily singable melodies whose tones clearly define a tonal center and imply major and minor chords and Barbershop (dominant and secondary dominant) seventh chords that resolve primarily around the circle of fifths, while making frequent use of other resolutions. Barbershop music also features a balanced and symmetrical form, and a standard meter.

The basic song and its harmonization are embellished by the arranger to provide support of the song's theme and to close the song effectively. Barbershop singers adjust pitches to achieve perfectly tuned chords in just intonation while remaining true to the established tonal center.

Artistic singing in the Barbershop style exhibits a fullness or expansion of sound, precise intonation, a high degree of vocal skill and a high level of unity and consistency within the ensemble. Ideally, these elements are natural, unmanufactured and free from apparent effort.

The presentation of Barbershop music uses appropriate musical and visual methods to convey the theme of the song and provide the audience with an emotionally satisfying and entertaining experience. The musical and visual delivery is from the heart, believable, and sensitive to the song and its arrangement throughout. The most stylistic presentation artistically melds together the musical and visual aspects to create and sustain the illusions suggested by the music.


History of Sweet Adelines International

After World War II, barbershop singing was growing increasingly popular for men. In 1945, a small group of women wanted to participate in the chord-ringing, fun-filled harmony that the men were singing. So these women organized "Sweet Adelines in America." From its humble beginnings in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sweet Adelines International, as it is now called, has grown to a membership belong to more than 500 choruses over five continents.

For more information about Sweet Adelines International, visit the website.