Ringing Chords the Barbershop Way Part 3…

UnderAge QuartetHere is something for you ladies in the audience… A young group of ladies that can bring down the house… UnderAge Quartet.

Here is the final of 3 parts of ringing the chords…

Historically barbershoppers may have used the word “minor chord” in a way that is confusing to those with musical training. Averill suggests that it was “a shorthand for chord types other than major triads”, and says that the use of the word for “dominant seventh-type chords and diminished chords” was common in the late nineteenth century. A 1910 song called “Play That Barber Shop Chord” (often cited as an early example of “barbershop” in reference to music) contains the lines:

‘Cause Mister when you start that minor part
I feel your fingers slipping and a grasping at my heart,
Oh Lord play that Barber shop chord!

Averill notes the hints of rapture, “quasi-religion” and erotic passion in the language used by barbershoppers to describe the emotional effect. He quotes Jim Ewin as reporting “a tingling of the spine, the raising of the hairs on the back of the neck, the spontaneous arrival of ‘goose flesh’ on the forearm…. [the ‘fifth note’ has] almost ‘mysterious propensities…’ It’s the ‘consummation’ devoutly wished by those of us who love Barbershop harmony. If you ask us to explain … why we love it so, we are hard put to answer; ‘that’s where our faith takes over.'” Averill notes too the use of the language of addiction, “there’s this great big chord that gets people hooked.” An early manual was entitled “A Handbook for Adeline Addicts”.

He notes too that “barbershoppers almost never speak of ‘singing’ a chord, but almost always draw on a discourse of physical work and exertion; thus, they ‘hit’, ‘chop’, ‘ring’, ‘crack’, and ‘swipe….’ …vocal harmony… is interpreted as an embodied musicking. Barbershoppers never lose sight (or sound) of its physicality.”

WoW what a sound… Barbershop Harmony!

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA

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One Response to “Ringing Chords the Barbershop Way Part 3…”

  1. Hilary Says:

    Hi Jerry .. what a lovely sound the Under Age Quartet produce .. – it’s good to be pointed in the right direction for some excellent snippets of song & harmonization, which I know is your passion

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