About our vision and mission
Our mission: to bring people together in harmony and fellowship to enrich lives through singing.
What happens when people sing together?
As a nonprofit organization, the Barbershop Harmony Society understands and embraces the transformative power of harmony.
We know that group harmonizing can help:
- improve physical and emotional health
- build healthier communities
- young people become healthier adults
- forge inter-generational bonds
- reduce barriers across diverse cultures and groups
- build healthy self-identities
If people singing together is good, more people singing together would be even better!
In times of conflict and exclusion, barbershop inspires us to blend, to cooperate, to create beauty and to love each other. Imagine its impact as a balm for wounded warriors, an intervention for at-risk youth, as a way to ease end-of-life transition, or even as a better way to rehabilitate people in our prison system.
Our vision of Everyone in Harmony means EVERYONE – people of every age, of every background, every gender identity, every race, every sexual orientation, every political opinion or spiritual belief.
Every person who loves to harmonize has a place in our family.
Our strategic vision
What does "Everyone in Harmony" mean?
The Barbershop Harmony Society believes that what we offer – the experience of singing together in harmony – is meaningful to all people, and should therefore be accessible to people in all combinations.
Find out how the Society is making an impact on individuals and communities across the U.S. and around the world.
Learn More about Us
What is Barbershop Harmony?
Barbershop harmony is a style of unaccompanied vocal music characterized by consonant four-part chords for every melody note in a primarily homorhythmic (the same word sounds at the same time) texture.
The melody is consistently sung by the lead (second tenor), with the tenor (first tenor) harmonizing above the melody, the bass singing the lowest harmonizing notes, and the baritone completing the chord. Occasional brief passages may be sung by fewer than four voice parts.
Barbershop music features songs with understandable lyrics and easily singable melodies, whose tones clearly define a tonal center and imply major and minor chords and barbershop (dominant and secondary dominant) seventh chords that often resolve around the circle of fifths, while also making use of other resolutions. Barbershop music also features a balanced and symmetrical form, and a standard meter. The basic song and its harmonization are embellished by the arranger to provide appropriate support of the song’s theme and to close the song effectively.
Barbershop singers adjust pitches to achieve perfectly tuned chords (instead of tempered tuning like the piano) in just intonation while remaining true to the established tonal center. Artistic singing in the barbershop style exhibits a fullness or expansion of sound, precise intonation, a high degree of vocal skill, and a high level of unity and consistency within the ensemble. Ideally, these elements are natural, not manufactured, and free from apparent effort.
The performance of barbershop music uses appropriate musical and visual methods to convey the theme of the song and provide the audience with an emotionally satisfying and entertaining experience. Barbershop singers traditionally do not hold sheet music. The musical and visual delivery is from the heart, believable, and sensitive to the song and its arrangement throughout. The most stylistic performance artistically melds together the musical and visual aspects to create and sustain the illusions suggested by the music.
Barbershop can be performed in quartets as well as choirs, and can be found all over the world in male, female, and mixed ensembles.
• To perpetuate the old American institution: the barbershop quartet and barbershop harmony
• To promote appreciation of barbershop harmony
• To initiate and maintain a broad program of musical education, contests, and appreciation in support of barbershop harmony and the allied arts
• To establish and maintain foundations that support our vision
• To initiate, promote and participate in charitable projects that support our vision
Our Code of Ethics
The Society aspires to preserve for its members and for all future generations of prospective members, the sacred right of all people to seek haven from the burden of their daily cares through indulgence in old-fashioned vocal quartet harmony, and to that end we do hereby solemnly pledge ourselves to abide by the precepts of the Code of Ethics.
- We shall endeavor to perpetuate the Barbershop Harmony Society and the barbershop style of singing.
- We shall deport ourselves and conduct the Barbershop Harmony Society’s functions in such manner as to reflect credit upon the Barbershop Harmony Society and its membership.
- We shall conform to the bylaws of the Barbershop Harmony Society and any other rules set forth by its Board of Directors.
- We shall accept for membership only congenial persons of good character who love barbershop harmony or have a desire to harmonize.
- We shall exhibit a spirit of good fellowship toward all members and strive to resolve any conflicts with civility and respect.
- We shall refrain from forcing our songs upon unsympathetic ears.
- We shall refrain from taking improper advantage of our membership and BHS fellowship for personal gain.
- We shall not permit political, religious, or other controversial issues to hinder or inhibit the enjoyment of barbershop harmony.
- We shall, through our service to the Barbershop Harmony Society, endeavor to spread the spirit of barbershop harmony throughout the world.