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About Our Music: what makes it barbershop?

Everyone can sing barbershop, but we have some terminology and best practices to learn!

Women singing during rehearsal at Harmony University

All music has special performance practices that take some time to learn, especially if you are familiar with a different style. A professional pianist can play classical music at an amazing level, but it takes some time for the same pianist to learn to play the blues, rock, or ragtime. The same is true for singers from the choral world trying barbershop harmony at the start.

The History of Barbershop Music

Roots Artwork

Barbershop harmony finds its roots in a rich African-American tradition. Starting in the 1880s and 1890s, the black community harmonized recreationally the popular songs of the day as well as spirituals and folk songs, improvising harmonies according to long-standing African-American musical practice.

From these sessions arose certain idiosyncratic musical qualities that are the hallmarks of what we now consider the barbershop style.

Free Sheet Music

Simply download, print, and enjoy!

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We proudly provide free sheet music for everyone to enjoy. In addition to the Barbershop classics, you'll find music to help you celebrate birthdays, holidays, and more.

Happy singing!

Teach a Barbershop Tag

Get started with a classic tag! View our playlist of basic tags to try with your ensembles today.

Additional Tag Resources

Access the Classic Tags for Men's Voices songbook (125 tags), find tags for all voices, download tag apps, and more.

Physical and Vocal Warm-Ups

Watch expert clinicians teach physical and vocal warm-ups to participants at our flagship educational event, Harmony University