Barbershop Singing for Women
In simple terms, barbershop harmony is vocal harmony produced by four parts: lead, tenor, baritone and bass. Finding the right part for your voice is the initial step. Any woman of average singing ability, with or without vocal training, will find a part that fits her range.
Lead is the melody and is sung in the range between A below middle C, and C above middle C.
Tenor is a harmony part sung consistently above the lead. Although tenor is the highest voice in barbershop harmony, it should not be confused with soprano of conventional singing groups. The tenor should have a light, sweet, pure tone that will compliment but not overpower the lead voice.
Baritone covers approximately the same range as lead. The baritone harmony notes cross the lead notes, sometimes sung below and sometimes above. Baritones must constantly adjust their balance to accommodate their position in the chord.
Bass singers should have a rich, mellow voice and be able to sing the E flat below middle C easily. Basses should not be confused with the alto of conventional groups. Many altos can sing the bass part, but others are much better suited to lead or baritone, depending on range and vocal quality.
It has four parts - no more, no less.
It has melodies that are easily remembered.
Barbershop harmonic structure is characterized by:
a strong bass line
melody in an internal part
complete chords without any non-chord tones
mostly major triads, dominant 7th chords and dominant 9th chords with other chords used in passing as demanded by the implied harmony
- traditional harmonic movement and resolutions
It has rhythmic interest as an important and vital part of an uptune.
It has clear, recognizable form.
It has lyrics that are clear and understandable.
It is challenging to perform because:
it requires great vocal skill and is usually sung by amateur singers;
all chords must be heard with clarity requiring singers to sing precise intervals.
Properly tuned barbershop chords are congruent with the physics of sound.
Energy and physical involvement are required from the singer in a degree of intensity not usually found in other choral forms.
The artistic potential is unlimited since we are not bound by the printed page.
It is emotionally satisfying to both the listener and the performer.
You can't do it alone.