(Barbershop Quartet Preservation
the barbershop style begins with the song, which consists of the
melody, the lyric, and the harmonies implied by the melody. The style
is unaccompanied vocal music characterized by consonant four-part
every melody note in a predominantly homophonic texture. There are also
other elements that make up the style.
The melody needs to be distinguishable from the harmony while clearly
defining a tonal center. It should illustrate the inherent implied
harmonies, and provide for embellishments. The range should be within
the average singer's capability of performance and the rhythms should
be natural and uncomplicated. Barbershop melodies feature balanced and
symmetrical forms, and standard meters of 2, 3, 4, 6 beats per
The lyrics should be easily understood by both singers and listeners.
Ideally they may be reminiscent of earlier times, avoiding modern and
contemporary slang, rock and hip-hop usage. They should have rhyming
qualities, and be in good taste.
The harmony should be predominantly consonant, favoring major and minor
triads, and seventh chords. Approximately 33% of the total arrangement
should consist of barbershop seventh chords that usually resolve around
the circle of fifths, with occasional use of other
Progressions: Similar to chord progressions
found in popular music from the 1900s to the 1930s where the implied
harmony of the song is easily heard and easily "woodshedded" by
Appropriate use of swipes, bell chords, echoes, key changes, etc. are
encouraged, provided they do not overshadow the song.
Four voices -- tenor, lead, baritone and bass -- with the melody
consistently sung by the lead, with the tenor harmonizing above the
melody, the bass singing the lowest harmonizing notes and the baritone
completing the chord. For artistic effect the melody may, on occasion,
be sung by one of the harmony parts. In addition, the texture may be
very briefly reduced to fewer than four voices.