Instant Barbershop

Oftentimes, barbershop singers want to sing something with other men who don't know all know the same arrangement to the same song. Since it can take a while to learn a whole song, we can teach the end of the song, or the tag. The Tag of the song is like a coda; it announces the end of the song. Some tags are written for the joy of a tag, even without the rest of the song. The arranger might place some  "meatier" chords in the tag, or a "hanger" or post in one or more voices. "The tag allows four singers to quickly blend their voices in a few seconds of blissful harmony without the burden of learning an entire song," says David Wright, barbershop and mathematics guru. The 2006 International Quartet Champions, Vocal Spectrum demonstrate a hanger tag to Cruella De Vil.

That tag is not quite "Instant Barbershop." A simpler, and more immediate tag is the end of the jazz standard and Louis Armstrong's signature song, "When It's Sleepy Time Down South." This is what the sheet music for the tag looks like:

If you listened to the Louis Armstrong song, this may surprise you, but it is correct. Let's take a look at the Lead, or melody part, the second voice from the top. On the top clef, it is the bottom notes; the solid or hollow ovals with a line hanging down. The tenor sings above the melody, the bass sings the lowest notes, and the baritone gets the other notes, which may be above or below the melody. If the description confuses you, don't worry, reading music is not necessary and we have recordings coming up.

Our lead part has only two notes in this tag, and should be quick to learn. In this tag, all voice parts start on the same note, which makes it easier to get started. The downloadable track has the melody separated on the right channel, and the other 3 parts combined on the left channel. Learn the two notes to the lead part, then switch your balance to the other parts and sing along. Download the lead track (mp3) by right-clicking the icon and selecting "Save As…" (or similar) or left-click to play the track: .

Now you have Instant Barbershop! Come to one of our rehearsals and grab some chorus members during the break and sing the tag with men you've never sung with before. Advanced singers may wish to learn one of the other parts.

Tenor (Highest part): . Bass (Lowest Part): . Baritone: .

Once you have mastered this tag, try some more!

Chorus members receive digital tracks similar to these to learn music for performances. These are the same style as "Music Minus One" or Karaoke tracks. Even if you or Robert Plant have no music reading experience, you can still learn the songs and be part of our performing chorus.

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