What can be more fun than listening to a Barbershop Quartet? Four part harmony that blends together a Lead, Tenor, Baritone and Bass. (Normally male but there are also many female quartets as well.) Now you might think that these quartets come from Gospel and Minstrels and of course, many do. However, even back in Shakespeare’s day there were groups that performed exactly like the modern, or more modern, day groups. They were often accompanied by a lute but nothing else.
The Barbershop quartet became popular in America during the late 1800’s, often accompanied by a banjo. In more recent years most barbershop is done a-capella, without musical accompaniment. On April 11th, 1938 the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, named April 11th as Barbershop Quartet Day. Songs like, “Shine On Harvest Moon”, “Hello, Ma Baby” and “Sweet Adeline” have become classics for the Barbershoppers.
If you stop and think about it, rock and roll, R&B and many other modern day forms of music owe a lot to the barbershop quartet. 4 part harmony, a mainstay of many hits started with barbershop techniques. The Beatles, Doobie Brothers, Mamma’s & Papa’s, all have roots deep in the barbershop history. If you ever watched the film, “The Music Man” it was filled with barbershop quartet material. The Buffalo Bills performed at Robert Preston’s will bringing a lighter and funnier side to the movie. And who hasn’t taken that ride at Disney where the barbershop grave quartet perform on a “nightly” basis.
To celebrate, listen to a barbershop quartet. Try singing in a barbershop quartet. Come up with your own list of modern-day musical performers that use barbershop stylings.