Mention “Barbershop” to most people and the first image that comes to mind is 4 chaps in straw boaters and natty candy-striped, blazers.
That’s where barbershop started, but it’s come a long way in the past 100 years. Barbershop is a style of close harmony singing, sung in 4 parts: Tenor, Lead, Baritone and Bass.
Barbershop is usually sung in single sex groups, either in a quartet or a chorus. It differs from traditional choral singing, not only by the use of very close harmony, but also by the choreography involved. From the emotive movements in a ballad, to the more complex dance choreography in an up-beat tune, Barbershop is as much about the visual performance, as it is the audio. The singers perform without the safety net of music sheets or piano accompaniment, so keeping a performance in key is often one of the biggest challenges. To aid this, singers do not stand in blocks according to the part they are singing, but will instead be mixed up with other parts, to help them to hear and blend with the voices around them. So a chorus line up might look something like this.