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Learning tracks: Too much of a good thing?

There can be too much of a good thing, and learning tracks are one of those things. Look, we sell learning tracks here at the Society, and some awesome musicians among us are creating masterpieces. They can be really helpful for learning. But has the pendulum swung too far? I’ve seen chapters scrap songs that were perfect for them, and only because there wasn’t a learning track available! I f...
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How can we feature the “common man” in The Harmonizer?

If you'd like some insight into how I select which stories go in The Harmonizer, here it is. Right or wrong, this is how I see my job as editor of the magazine, and this is how I filter through the many submissions and story pitches I receive. The following e-mail exchange shows a quandary that I face in knowing how to talk about ordinary barbershoppers among ordinary barbershoppers. It started w...
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Barbershop contests are a “lead contest”, aren’t they?

Lead legends Joe Connelly, Chuck Sisson, Rick Knight, Mike Slamka, & David Harrington While it truly takes 'four to tango', the quartet's failures and successes overall hinge primarily on the lead's ability to take command of the ensemble during a performance. This isn't to take anything away from all the legendary basses, baritones, and tenors throughout the history of our Society, but when...
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Audience Behavior at Contest: Cheer and Holler or Simply Applaud?

Yea, I know, who cares?  Right? BUT...As a competitor, judge, and staff guy, I get around to many contests each year in several different districts and I always find it interesting how varying barbershop audiences can be with the way they welcome the competitors to the stage.  (more…)
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The Hallmark 7th Chord: A proposed Music Category change

Thanks for visiting the blog concerning the 33% criterion.  The position paper mentioned on page 24-25 of the July/August 2009 edition of  The Harmonizer is here: 7th Chord Position Paper. A copy of the article in The Harmonizer is here: The Hallmark 7th Chord. Although this is not technically a change to the definition of the barbershop style, this criterion has been used for almost 40 years i...
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Music we hear in contests

I have been musing about the variety of music we hear on the International stage and how much of it is, well, not so good. I don't mean it's not performed well - of course it's performed well, these are the best practitioners of our style in the world! I mean it's not all the very best music. Seems that, in an effort to do something unique, many of our competitors find some obscure song no one's d...
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Before it’s too late: who needs to have an official Society interview?

A sensitive topic here, because we don't need to eulogize people who are still with us! But I need to come out and ask this: Who are some of the barbershop icons that we need to talk to and interview now, just in case we never get the chance again? (more…)
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Bring Back the Good Old Songs … of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s?

I received this email from Bill Rohlin (a 40-year member of the Society) the other day which he's given me permission to share here on the blog: I'd like to see some songs in the BBS style from the top 100 hits from the years when our target demographic was in its teens.  We need simple arrangements.  If the tune could be contestable it needs to be clearly stated that the easy-to-learn version i...
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Quartetting: why it matters to make it official

Guest post by Society Music Specialist Mike O'Neill, (also bass of Lunch Break, 2008 international semi-finalist): Currently, we have 1,444 registered quartets in the Barbershop Harmony Society. That means, approximately 5,776 (it is probably less since several men are registered in more than one quartet) members of our Society sing in a registered quartet. Can you believe that fewer than 22%...
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