2008 Student Research Conference:
21st Annual Student Research Conference

Examining the Barbershop Quartet
Douglas L. Worley
Dr. Marc Rice, Faculty Mentor

This paper will examine the tradition of Barbershop Quartets, a genre that consists of four vocalists singing a cappella. The music is very homophonic. All voices move together, and there is a new chord for most notes. Much emphasis is also given to the dominant seventh chord. Attention is also given to the intonation. Given that the human voice is the most flexible instrument as far as tuning is concerned, it is possibly the only way to perform using just intonation, which makes ringing or bell chords possible as different harmonics are reinforced. These traits give barbershop music its unique sound, which became popular around the turn of the 20th century. However with the invention of the radio recreational a cappella singing was threatened. Fortunately barbershop singing was saved by the formation of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America in 1938.

Keywords: barbershop, quartet, a cappella, music


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 9-1
Location: OP 2117
Time: 8:15

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