What is Barbershop?

Barbershop is a style of a cappella music characterized by 4-part chords for every melody note in a predominantly homophonic texture. The four parts are primarily named after traditional male voicings, whether sung by male, female, or mixed groups – bass, baritone, tenor, and lead, which primarily sings the melody. Unlike most other styles of music such as chorus music, the melody is not sung by the highest part. The baritone fills in the chord between the bass (lowest), tenor (highest), and the melody, either above or below the melody.

Barbershop music features songs with understandable lyrics, easily singable melodies, standard meters, and a frequent rise of dominant seventh chords, also referred to as “barbershop sevenths”.

The “magic” in barbershop music comes from the unique harmonies, and expansion of sound and “ring” created when the singers achieve perfectly tuned chords with natural, freely-produced vocal quality. This, along with an artistic, heartfelt, believable performance provides the audience with an entertaining and emotional satisfying experience.

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