something for everyone

I have to boggle alongside kniedzw (who found this thread) that he found it on Fark, of all places. I haven’t tried to watch the video that originally started the thread — it may be gone by now — but that’s okay; the real point is the posts by user COMALite J.

Some of you may recall me posting about the Vocal Majority last Christmas. As I said then, I mostly just like their holiday music; their standard work, which is more straight-up barbershop, isn’t as much to my taste. You can’t deny, though, that they are very very good at it — as outlined in COMALite J’s first epic comment, which goes into the scoring and history of the Barbershop Harmony Society’s competitions.

(Side note: dammit! Looks like the Ambassadors of Harmony, who have been on a different gear of the three-year cycle, got beaten by the Westminster Chorus in ’07. Which meant the AoH were able to return for the competition this year — you can’t come back for two years after winning — which meant they faced off against the Vocal Majority for the first time, and the VM took silver for the first time in thirty years. Mope. I wanted them to win. Though at least it was the most epic battle for gold the BHS has ever seen.)

Anyway. If you want to know who to listen to in the field of barbershop quartets and choruses, that’s the comment to check out. If, on the other hand, you’re a music geek on a more technical level, he also posted about the harmonics of barbershop, talking about how Pythagoras led Western music down a path that missed all kinds of other harmonic opportunities, with an added bonus explanation of why proper barbershop has to be performed a capella.

And then, if your interest is more historical, he comes back for a third round, this time about the history of barbershop as a musical form, and how it got co-opted by whites in the thirties, very much to the exclusion of the black performers who started it.

But stop there. Those are pretty much the only comments of any substance whatsoever, and most of the remaining thread is your usual fark-fest of “omg that’s so gay.” What this was doing on Fark in the first place, I don’t know, but it makes for very interesting reading.

0 Responses to “something for everyone”

  1. c0untmystars

    That is fascinating, especially the history. Thanks for the links.

  2. Anonymous

    A guy in my senior seminar in college did his paper about barbershop. The only stuff I know about it, which isn’t much, I know from that. I do know, however, that there are really strict guidelines as to what makes barbershop, barbershop. Lots of rules about what kind of chords can be, and have to be used, rules about voicing, and how the voices move and all that stuff. It’s really why barbershop has such a distinct sound compared to other a capella stuff.


    • Anonymous

      Makes sense. It definitely doesn’t sound like anything else out there.

  3. occultatio

    This was incredibly interesting, and actually inspired me to find a local barbershop chorus in my area (I had no idea barbershop was sung in anything other than quartets)! I’m seriously considering attending one of their open rehearsals. So, thanks for pointing this out!

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