Event Title

Barbershop Quartets and American Popular Music

Location

King Building 339

Start Date

4-28-2017 4:30 PM

End Date

4-28-2017 5:50 PM

Abtract

In my capstone paper, I examine how barbershop quartet music is underrepresented in college and university-level classes on the history of American popular music. Though many people are only familiar with the barbershop quartet’s stereotypical image as occasionally seen in the media, barbershop quartet singing was very popular in the early 20th century, both in practice and in recordings. This music was not exclusively a cappella, and many of the popular recording groups sang over bands! College textbooks touch on these subjects, but do not give barbershop the attention it deserves. I’ve investigated three textbooks: Larry Starr’s and Christopher Waterman’s American Popular Music: From Minstrelsy to MP3, Richard Crawford’s and Larry Hamberlin’s An Introduction to America’s Music (2nd ed.), and a 1948 textbook on popular songs by Sigmund Spaeth titled A History of Popular Music in America. My research into the history of barbershop comes partly from academic literature: John Runowicz’ Forever Doo-wop, Vic Hobson’s Creating Jazz Counterpoint, and Averill Gage’s esteemed Four Parts, No Waiting: a Social History of American Barbershop Harmony examine the social and performance history of barbershop. I heavily reference David Wright’s “The History of Barbershop” lecture series, which masterfully contextualizes and details barbershop throughout American history. Analyses of primary source recordings of the American Quartet, the Peerless Quartet and other top groups from the 20th century help to define the barbershop sound and bring context their relationship to other popular songs at the time.

Keywords:

barbershop, popular music history, harmony, sound

Notes

Session III, Panel 15 - Black | Authorship
Moderator: Gillian Johns, Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies

Major

Musical Studies

Advisor(s)

David Heetderks, Music Theory

Project Mentor(s)

Benjamin Geyer, Music Theory

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Apr 28th, 4:30 PM Apr 28th, 5:50 PM

Barbershop Quartets and American Popular Music

King Building 339

In my capstone paper, I examine how barbershop quartet music is underrepresented in college and university-level classes on the history of American popular music. Though many people are only familiar with the barbershop quartet’s stereotypical image as occasionally seen in the media, barbershop quartet singing was very popular in the early 20th century, both in practice and in recordings. This music was not exclusively a cappella, and many of the popular recording groups sang over bands! College textbooks touch on these subjects, but do not give barbershop the attention it deserves. I’ve investigated three textbooks: Larry Starr’s and Christopher Waterman’s American Popular Music: From Minstrelsy to MP3, Richard Crawford’s and Larry Hamberlin’s An Introduction to America’s Music (2nd ed.), and a 1948 textbook on popular songs by Sigmund Spaeth titled A History of Popular Music in America. My research into the history of barbershop comes partly from academic literature: John Runowicz’ Forever Doo-wop, Vic Hobson’s Creating Jazz Counterpoint, and Averill Gage’s esteemed Four Parts, No Waiting: a Social History of American Barbershop Harmony examine the social and performance history of barbershop. I heavily reference David Wright’s “The History of Barbershop” lecture series, which masterfully contextualizes and details barbershop throughout American history. Analyses of primary source recordings of the American Quartet, the Peerless Quartet and other top groups from the 20th century help to define the barbershop sound and bring context their relationship to other popular songs at the time.