My grandfather was a great singer and I think I inherited his musical ability. I'm still a beginner but I really enjoy singing, so I decided that I should join a barbershop quartet like he was in. Are there songs that all barbershop quartet members should know? What else can I do to practice? Thanks in advance for any help!
A great way to get started in barbershop is to join a barbershop chorus. These are large choirs that sing barbershop music. Joining one will have lots of benefits for you.
- You'll be able to sing right away without the pressure of having to carry a whole part by yourself.
- You'll learn lots of standard barbershop songs and harmonies.
- You'll make lots of friends, which will be quite helpful when you are ready to form a quartet.
If you are male, you can start your search for a local chorus on the Barbershop Harmony Society (S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A.) website.
As for standard songs, there are lots of traditional barbershop songs, but the Barbershop Harmony Society has defined 12 standard songs that they call Polecats. The idea is that if everyone learns these 12 songs, you'll be able to sing instantly with any group of barbershoppers that you happen to meet. The sheet music for this list can be purchased from the Barbershop Harmony Society.
Another thing you can do that will help is learn some tags. A tag is an ending to a barbershop song, and tags are different from the rest of the song in that they focus mostly on ending with beautiful harmonies. They tend to be good for beginners to learn, in that the tags are shorter and easier to learn than an entire song, and tend to hold out chords for longer, allowing better practice at tuning up. They're also pretty fun to learn impromptu with friends. They also often teach something called "posting", where one member of a quartet holds out one note for a long time while the other parts move around them to make different harmonies. Finally, they tend to use more complicated harmonies than the rest of the songs they're from, which can be really good for your musical ears if your group has got the skills to do them.
Just as with the classic barbershop songs and polecats, there are a lot of tags that have become classics. There are plenty of resources for beginner tags out there, and even easy tags can sound really nice.