top of page

What is barbershop singing?

Barbershop harmony is vocal a cappella harmony produced by four voice parts: tenor, lead, baritone and bass.


In barbershop harmony, the top voices sing with less weight and intensity than the lower voices. Chords “lock” better when vibrato is minimal. When sung accurately with good breath support, BBS harmony produces overtone vibrations that create a resonant ring.


Tenor is a harmony part sung consistently above the lead. The tenor should have a light, sweet, pure tone that will complement but not overpower the lead voice. The range for tenor is from G above middle C to high F on the top line of the clef.


Lead generally sings the melody and is sung with authority, clarity and consistent quality throughout her range. The range is between A below middle C, and C above middle C.


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 is the lowest note in the chord. Bass singers should have a rich, mellow voice and be able to sing the E-flat below middle C easily. Their tone is heavier and generally with more volume.

What makes a good ensemble singer?

1. Singers are able to match pitch and sing in tune.

2. Individual voices are complemented by other singers around them. This art form focuses on a matched approach to ensemble singing, not solo singing.

3. Singers confidently sing their own part while those around them sing other voice parts. Eventually, you will need to hold your own while standing by someone who isn’t your part.

4. Singers conduct a regular, healthy warm-up routine at home before practice. This helps expand their skills—such as flexibility, range, breath control, or volume control.

5. Singers practice at home either with the help of audio learning tracks or not. It’s just like exercising the body—if you do it on a regular basis, you will reap the benefits.


What are the benefits of singing?

1. It makes you feel good! By releasing pain-relieving endorphins into your system, singing makes you feel energized and uplifted.

2. It promotes your health!
*Singing exercises your vocal cords and keeps them youthful, even in old age.
*It expands your chest, back and shoulders thus improving posture.
*It improves circulation which oxygenates the cells and boosts your body’s immune system.

3. It keeps your brain active. Learning and memorizing notes and words, paying attention to musical notation, and keeping tempo all require active thinking. 

bottom of page