At 12:36 PM 10/31/2003 -0800, Norm wrote:
Sorry to have taken so long to respond to this--the spam filter at my ISP
decided to quarantine this posting for some reason, and didn't tell me
about it for a week! Maybe that "service" is more trouble than it's worth.
Anyhow, my thanks to Norm for sharing his experience. This is an amazing
discovery for me, but in retrospect I probably knew about it at a
subliminal level from having sung in chorus in high school, and in other
contexts. It just got a lot more obvious, and more interesting, with the
background in tuning and tempering that I have acquired from this list and
its evil twin, the FePo list. For which I am grateful, in case that fact
got lost amidst the occasional bickering.
As for the silliness associated with barbershopping, yeah, I can see the
possibility of eventually getting turned off by that aspect of it, but for
the moment, it's something I can put up with. As long as they don't ask me
to get a haircut!
Did I mention that when I did some research on the web, I discovered links
to earlier four-part choral traditions in Europe? I think I did mention
it. We experienced some of that on a folk tour in Hungary a few years
ago. It was astonishing! Somewhere in that search I read that
barbershopping is becoming popular in Europe as a replacement for that
older tradition, which is tending to die out. Speaking of support for the
On a somewhat related note, I read in a paper or magazine yesterday that
kids today in general are totally unfamiliar with traditional songs of the
US. The survey on which this was based found that the survival rate was
highest in Nebraska, which is where I grew up. There may be a connection
between that and the fact that three of the four members of the quartet
which won the Rocky Mountain SPEBSQSA competition last year were from NE.
>I was involved in barbershop for several years - finally dropped out from
>the insufferable shenanigans that seemed to be expected in addition to the
>music (ridiculous "stage presence" swaying and silly grinning, corny jokes,
>etc in performance.)
> However, the musical and acoustic effects that James refers to were indeed
>amazing. In chorus, or especially in a quartet setting, when the chords
>"lock" it is as if the sound suddenly takes on a life of its own. The
>effort you have in producing your own part disappears, and the note seems
>get pulled out of your throat with no participation from you. Indeed, an
>interesting phenomenon can be demonstrated at times during a held chord that
>locks well whereby a singer in a quartet can stop singing and his part can
>still be heard distinctly. I've been told that the various harmonics of the
>fundamentals of the other three voices combine to produce the missing
> The effect James mentions is like a phase lock, or sort of what like it
>must be in surfing when you catch a wave. I think you can hear and feel
>similar situation with a harpsichord if you tune pure intervals (thirds AND
>fifths) on a major triad. Try it on C major and see what you think.
>Enjoy barbershop for what it has to offer, James. It's lots of fun, if you
>can put up with the silly stuff.
>Norm Purdy - former S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A. member
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "James" <[log in to unmask]>
> > I went to barbershop for the second time last night, and this time we got
> > into doing serious work on one fairly comples song. The way it works is,
> > first learn the "architecture" of the piece, then put it together. My
> > earlier question about microtuning seems to have been answered. What
> > happens when you sing in close proximity to other people, being "in tune"
> > is something that you can feel inside the vocal cavity. This is not the
> > absence of something (beats) but the presence of something (phase
> > lock?). This is probably related to what Paul described in connection
> > using headphones with a gizmo.
> > The interesting thing about this is that in many years experience with
> > amateur string players, most seem oblivious or indifferent to this kind of
> > effect. The occasional exceptions stand out in my memory.
> > I get the same kind of kick playing the virginalists in 1/4 MT. An "ear
> > orgasm."
> > JB