Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tonal Tuesday - Singing Because We Can

I had the distinct pleasure of attending Strathroy's Barbershop Concert last Saturday evening and what a treat it was.  Kudos to our tenor, Bob Howlett, who not only sings in the chorus but in the Rural Roots Quartet as well.  Their rendition of "I'm My Own Grandpa" was sensational.  Bob delivered the difficult words with aplomb.   

Barbershoppers LOVE to sing and will sing at the drop of a hat or even with a cup of coffee.

I think it is amazing that the lady to the left is quite unperturbed by the singing.  She just carries on.

Bob sings "lead" with the Barbershoppers.   He is working away in the E.T.S. learning the tenor part which is quite different from his part in the barbershop music and doing a great job.

What makes barbershop harmony different from all other forms?  Well as most of our readers are aware, sounds all have overtones that when blended together make a singular sound.  The waves created by those overtones are what create that "ringing" or lasting sound when you are listening.  this is what happens with Barbershop sound.

1.  Firstly, they have an additional note added to their 4 parts that would sound like a dissonance or wrong sound anywhere else.  It is the 7th note of the scale which sung against the traditional thirds we are used to hearing in western music  and makes the sound quite unique.

2. The harmonics or overtones created by the addition of the extra note, creates that distinctive sound often called a "ringing chord".  Of course, that chord is only found in parts of the music but is often more than half.  This makes the arranging of Barbershop  music very specialized.

3. Barbershoppers sing a Capella or without accompaniment.  Their chords are so rich in and of themselves that additional sounds are not necessary.  They use a pitch pipe to get the right starting note however.

4. They move, they act, they enjoy every minute they are singing.  Whether they are singing in Tim Horton's or on the stage at their yearly concert or at competitions, they just have a ball.  Because they have fun, they transfer that fun to the audience.  If you don't leave a Barbershop concert smiling, you weren't listening.  You don't have to love the harmonics but you have to love the effort and the enthusiasm.  What a treat.

Thanks Bob for reawakening my love of the Barbershop style.

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