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Society event and non-barbershop music

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  • Burt Szabo
    Hello all - Recently I attended a barbershop function, commonly known as COTS, sponsored by our society as a training weekend for chapter officers and chorus
    Message 1 of 36 , Nov 29, 2003
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      Hello all -

      Recently I attended a barbershop function, commonly
      known as COTS, sponsored by our society as a training
      weekend for chapter officers and chorus directors. One
      of the features of the weekend was a Saturday night
      show presented by a guest chorus from the district
      where the event was held. The audience consisted of
      chapter officers, some barbershop dignitaries, a few
      friends and wives, and the faculty for the weekend.
      With such a blue ribbon audience, one would expect to
      hear on the show the very finest of barbershop music.

      Alas! And alack! 'Twas not to be. Of nine songs
      prtesented by the guest chorus, only one was near
      enough to barbershop style music that it might have
      been sung in a society chorus competition. I will not
      make you throw up by listing the titles of their songs.

      One has to wonder why the chorus would stray to such an
      extreme from the barbershop style. I've heard the
      excuse that we must sing more "modern" music to attract
      younger singers. There were no younger singers in the
      audience, which consisted almost entirely of society
      members, with varying years of society membership. Why
      should this chorus have inflicted upon us such grossly
      inappropriate and non-barbershop music??

      This isn't the first time I have heard guest performers
      present highly questionable music to a thoroughly
      barbershop audience. I recall another incident, at a
      similar gathering, where a district quartet (the
      then-current district champs, I believe) sang so little
      barbershop that one might have thought we were
      attending a "Grammy Awards" show of pop celebrities.

      It's high time that guest entertainers were informed of
      proper etiquette and good sense (something many seem
      to have forgotten) in selecting music for a barbershop
      audience. These same guests probably would not sing
      "I've Got A Lot Of Livin' To Do" at a funeral, or
      "Some Of These Days" at a wedding. Why sing music ( at
      a barbershop gathering ) which has so little in common
      with the barbershop style?

      It's time that the folks who arrange these
      entertainments, those who invite guest performers,
      remind them that they ought to sing mostly barbershop.
      If they're not willing to do that, the invitation
      should be withdrawn. If our own international
      officers and leaders are unwilling, too scared, or not
      interested enough to do this, where is the future for
      our society and for barbershop music??

      In discussing the above described travesty with a
      fellow commiserant, he said to me "There will always
      be barbershop, and there will always be fellows who
      love to sing barbershop - - - whether there is a
      society or not." In other words -
      barbershop will endure, with or without the society.
      And that is true. Some consolation, I guess. Think
      about it.


      Burt Szabo


      525 Conway Rd. #221
      Azalea Park, FL 32807
    • David Roberts
      Plenty of meat, Charley! Well said. Dave Roberts Tulsa Founders Chorus ... common ... this. I ... to become ... (generally) ... decided that ... happen for
      Message 36 of 36 , Dec 4, 2003
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        Plenty of meat, Charley! Well said.

        Dave Roberts
        Tulsa Founders Chorus

        --- In bbshop@yahoogroups.com, "Charley Garrett"
        <charley_garrett@e...> wrote:
        > Burt, and everybody,
        > I'm not sure my post will have enough meat in it to be a significant
        > contribution to this discussion. However, I think it may be a
        > viewpoint that is understated in this conversation. It's just
        this. I
        > joined the Society because I like barbershop music. I didn't join
        to become
        > a museum curator. I sing this stuff because I like it better
        > than that stuff. That's just the way my tastes go. I never
        decided that
        > I'd never sing any other sort of music. That's just not going to
        happen for
        > me. I'll sing anything that I like, whenever I like, wherever I
        > (without forcing anybody to listen, of course). But I will not
        accept the
        > proposition that if I sing some Swingle Singers arrangement of a
        > some time or other, that this will lead to the loss of barbershop
        > I'll still be singing what I like, and the fact is that I like
        > arrangements better than most of the things these other people are
        > I'm not a music historian either. I don't _know_ when a song was
        written, I
        > just know when I like it. I can just recognize elements in the
        > harmony, lyrics, themes, and such that I like, and it turns out
        that these
        > happen to be barbershop features. When I'd figured that much out,
        > when I joined the Society. To be a part of the group where the
        sort of
        > music that I instinctively love is being made, where I can hear it
        at its
        > highest levels of competence, learn more about it, participate in
        it, both
        > as a performer, as a novice arranger/song writer, a director, etc.
        > harmony market place where a few thousand arrangements can be
        obtained is a
        > tremendous resource for the novice barbershopper, like me. We've
        > finished our "next to the last" Christmas sing out, another one on
        the 16th.
        > In preparation, we learned over 30 Christmas themed pieces. A
        > number of them arranged by Burt Szabo, BTW. Thanks, Burt!
        > So, I guess, the bottom line is that I "keep it barbershop" to the
        > that I do, not because of some abstract philosophy, but just
        because that's
        > what it seems like I like the best. I'm right there with Burt and
        Casey and
        > them about, "if you're going to have a contest to see who's singing
        > barbershop the best, by gum, you have to deduct points if they
        don't sing
        > barbershop", but for any other sort of a show, then there are 2
        parts: sing
        > what you love, and try to pick stuff that your audience will
        > I'm only committing to keep singing what I love, and I think that
        it will
        > turn out to be a good percentage of barbershop tunes.
        > Charley Garrett
        > =========================
        > President, Columbus Georgia Chapter, SPEBSQSA, Inc.
        > Director, Rivertown Barbershop Chorus
        > Tenor, Wildwood
        > Tenor, Latter Day Harmony Quest
        > ------------------------------------------------
        > If I wished to punish a province, I would have it governed by
        > philosophers. - Frederick II, the Great
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