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Roots of Barbershop Harmony Article

by Dr. Jim Henry

If you’re a Barbershopper, the odds are good that a certain Norman Rockwell print is hanging on somewall in your house. You know the one I mean. First appearing on a 1936 Saturday Evening Post cover, the scene depicts four men, one with lather on his face, warbling a sentimental ballad: the quintessential barbershop quartet. Barbershop quartets often are characterized as four dandies, perhaps bedecked with straw hats, striped vests and handlebar mustaches. These caricatures of the barbershop tradition are not only a quaint symbol of small-town Americana, but have some historical foundation. Barbershop music was indeed borneout of informal gatherings of amateur singers in such unpretentious settings as the local barber shop.

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