The four voice parts
The foundation of a cappella harmony singing is the “quartet”. Quartets weave together extraordinary sounds that showcase the beautiful harmonies you hear in much more depth. This style of music originated in North America. Read more about the history in the Origins of Barbershop.
The voice parts in barbershop for women have different names and functions than they do in other vocal styles. The lead voice, which generally sings the melody, is below the tenor harmony. The tenor part sings the highest note in the chord, while the baritone part fills in the all-important missing note in a chord that may be above or below the melody. Finally, the bass part supplies the harmonic foundation (root or fifth) of the chord.
In the vocal craft of a cappella, your entire body is engaged in producing the resonant sound. Our voices are the orchestra and, like an orchestra, an ensemble must be able to stay in tune. Maintaining perfect pitch produces the “overtone”. We call that “ringing a chord”. When we hear that sound, it is as if another voice part is added to the mix. If anything can get you hooked on the music, it is the “ringing chord”. The music comes alive when the musical and visual aspects intertwine in the message of the song. The performance is magic, and the audience is engaged in an experience that is from the heart, and believable. This is the definitive quest for barbershoppers.