Barbershop harmony is generally considered to be one of the few uniquely American-born musical styles, alongside jazz , with which it shares origins. The simplest definition of barbershop centers around:
- Relatively simple melodies
- Sung in four-part harmony
- Without instruments
- With the melody carried in the second-highest voice part (barbershop “lead”), a high tenor harmonizing above that, a bass singer singing fundamental harmonies (mainly roots and fifths), and a baritone filling in above and below the melody.
The core experience of ringing big barbershop chords is most easily accomplished by singing the Barberpole Cat songs, twelve songs you can count on hearing anywhere sung by Barbershoppers around the globe. Sing through "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" or "Sweet Roses Of Morn", and you will have sung the barbershopping-est chords in the style, and produced some serious overtones.
Of course, one of the most well-known examples of Barbershop music is "Lida Rose"
from the movie The Music Man
. But Barbershoppers are still alive and well today, as seen in this video from a recent competition
, which is on the list of must-see Barbershop videos