Barbershopping: Musical and Social Harmony

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Max Kaplan
Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1993 - Music - 149 pages
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This is the first comprehensive examination of the remarkable singing groups in the U.S.A., Canada, and Europe known as "barbershoppers." In both male and female a capella quartets and choruses, the barbershop singers concentrate on a song literature that was popular in the period 1860-1930. Their purpose is spelled out in the title of a male group founded a half century ago in Oklahoma: the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA). Today, the SPEBSQSA consists of approximately 40,000 men in the United States and Canada, with affiliated chapters in thirty other nations. Two women's groups who share the ideology of the SPEBSQSA are Sweet Adelines International and Harmony, Inc. The entertainment provided by these groups - in both concert performances and international competitions - is enjoyed by a wide public.
In 1988 a special committee began to reexamine SPEBSQSA's basic purposes and organization - vis a vis social and aesthetic changes. The committee members decided to create for this reexamination a task force of distinguished scholars with expertise in sociology, ethnomusicology, and music education. Each scholar was invited to research barbershopping as it related to a specific discipline. The historian emeritus of the SPEBSQSA was asked to provide a broad history of the movement. Their work is presented in the current volume - a book that will be of interest to many people: educators, musicians, counselors, social scientists, historians, recreationists, health workers, gerontologists, and - of course - the 75,000 men and women who call themselves barbershoppers.

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Contents

From the InsideA Descriptive View of SPEBSQSA
13
The Respectable Art of Woodshedding in World Music
33
Becoming a Barbershop Singer
55
The Leisure Framework
73
ElitistPopulist Dualisms and the American Music Preservation Problem
95
Barbershoppers as Vestige of the Past and Promise for the Future
108
Tradition and Innovation
126
List of Contributors
145
Bibliography
148
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Page 13 - Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc., there has been developed at most installations in the past year many soldier quartet and choral groups.
Page 82 - Indeed, an unmeasured but appreciable amount of work is already being done at home by such people as salesmen and saleswomen who work by phone or visit, and only occasionally touch base at the office; by architects and designers; by a burgeoning pool of specialized consultants in many industries; by large numbers of human-service workers like therapists or psychologists; by music teachers and language instructors; by art dealers, investment counselors, insurance agents, lawyers, and academic researchers;...
Page 144 - Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987); ED Hirsch, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987).
Page 40 - Improvisation enjoys the curious distinction of being both the most widely practised of all musical activities and the least acknowledged and understood. While it is today present in almost every area of music, there is an almost total absence of information about it. Perhaps this is inevitable, even appropriate. Improvisation is always changing and adjusting, never fixed, too elusive for analysis and precise description; essentially non-academic. And, more than that, any attempt to describe improvisation...
Page 15 - I N NO country in the world has the principle of association been more successfully used or applied to a greater multitude of objects than in America.
Page 40 - For there is scarcely a single field in music that has remained unaffected by improvisation, scarcely a single musical technique or form of composition that did not originate in improvisatory practice or was not essentially influenced by it. The whole history of the development of music is accompanied by manifestations of the drive to improvise.
Page 57 - Serious leisure is defined as "the systematic pursuit of an amateur, hobbyist, or volunteer activity that is sufficiently substantial and interesting for the participant to find a career there in the acquisition and expression of its special skills, and knowledge
Page 57 - Serious leisure is the systematic pursuit of an amateur, hobbyist or volunteer activity that participants find so substantial and interesting that...
Page 39 - The petrifying effect of European classical music on those things it touches - jazz, many folk musics, and all popular musics have suffered grievously in their contact with it - made the prospect of finding improvisation there pretty remote. Formal, precious, self-absorbed, pompous, harbouring rigid conventions and carefully preserved hierarchical distinctions; obsessed with its geniuses and their timeless masterpieces, shunning the accidental and the unexpected; the world of classical music provides...

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