What can be more fun than listening to a Barbershop Quartet? Four part harmony that blends together a Lead, Tenor, Baritone and Bass. (Normally male but there are also many female quartets as well.) Now you might think that these quartets come from Gospel and Minstrels and of course, many do. However, even back in Shakespeare’s day there were groups that performed exactly like the modern, or more modern, day groups. They were often accompanied by a lute but nothing else.
The Barbershop quartet became popular in America during the late 1800’s, often accompanied by a banjo. In more recent years most barbershop is done a-capella, without musical accompaniment. On April 11th, 1938 the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, named April 11th as Barbershop Quartet Day. Songs like, “Shine On Harvest Moon”, “Hello, Ma Baby” and “Sweet Adeline” have become classics for the Barbershoppers.
If you stop and think about it, rock and roll, R&B and many other modern day forms of music owe a lot to the barbershop quartet. 4 part harmony, a mainstay of many hits started with barbershop techniques. The Beatles, Doobie Brothers, Mamma’s & Papa’s, all have roots deep in the barbershop history. If you ever watched the film, “The Music Man” it was filled with barbershop quartet material. The Buffalo Bills performed at Robert Preston’s will bringing a lighter and funnier side to the movie. And who hasn’t taken that ride at Disney where the barbershop grave quartet perform on a “nightly” basis.
To celebrate, listen to a barbershop quartet. Try singing in a barbershop quartet. Come up with your own list of modern-day musical performers that use barbershop stylings.
April is Jazz Appreciation Month. “One of America’s original art forms.” It began in New Orleans during the late 19th century primarily out of the African-American culture and has grown to many other aspects over the last one hundred plus years. Jazz makes use of improvisation, poly rhythms, syncopation and swing. The actually term “Jazz” was first used in 1916 with the American Dialect Society claiming it would be the “word of the twentieth century.”
There are many forms of jazz. The first coming out of New Orleans somewhere around 1910. This used French quadrilles, biguine, ragtime and blues as it’s foundation. It was relatively quickly accepted, and then altered. In the 1930’s Kansas City Jazz added swing to it’s formula and Gypsy Jazz used the waltz to it’s take. During the 1940’s, Bebop became popular as it was a style of jazz that felt good and could be danced to. Cool jazz also made its debut in the 1940’s using linear melodic lines to calm things down a bit.
Free Jazz became popular in the 1950’s. It featured no regular meter and perhaps began to get a little complicated for the average listener. Hard Bop also came in the 1950’s using a mix of R&B, Gospel and the Blues. The 50’s also introduced Modal Jazz, using musical scales as its foundation.
In the 1960’s-70’s, Jazz-Rock Fusion came on the scene, pretty self-explanitory. It did have a major influence in the rock artists that developed over the decades. By 1980, Smooth Jazz became the sexy, romantic version of all the above. Now in the new millineum the trend seems to be to either Latin Jazz or Afro-Cuban Jazz. It obviously mixes the latin beat and flair with all the technics of jazz aquired over the years.
So how to celebrate, well listen to some jazz of course… and if I might suggest a personal friend, Mickey Carroll is one of the best around.
Tune your radio station in your car to a jazz station and get a different perspective of life, or go to a club and listen to some Smooth Jazz live.