Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Locking and Ringing on Saturday Night

I'm part of a 50-member men's chorus called the Land of the Sky Barbershop Harmony chorus. We have a big show coming up this Saturday night at Tuscola High School in Waynesville. The show is called, "It's Not My Vault!" (For more info, CLICK HERE.)

Barbershop Harmony is a uniquely American art form. It's a particular style of 4-part a capella singing that uses a lot of interesting chords. As one writer says, "It all converges to produce a marvelous blend of sound and a ringing sensation that barbershop singers learn to strive for and expect. A large part of the allure of this music is the ecstacy experienced by the singer upon hearing his voice in a locked chord."

He's not kidding. I've experienced a lot of goose bumps during our Tuesday night rehearsals. When we get it right, it's awesome.

Another aspect of Barbershop that I enjoy is the goofy skits that we do between the songs in our shows. This year we're spoofing the summer olympics. We've got a hilarious group of male synchronized swimmers, a ton of really bad puns, and a member of our chorus who will high jump over the rest of us (using some interesting special effects). Corny stuff, but really, really fun.

One of my dreams is to one day be good enough to be in a Barbershop Quartet. It's not easy. For one thing you have to carry your part all by yourself. You can't hit wrong notes, you can't lean on the guy next to you if you're unsure of yourself, and you can't stop singing in the middle of a phrase to take a breath. For another thing, you've got to match the vowel sounds of the other three guys perfectly, which is challenging when you're all from different parts of the country (you know how northerners say, "Pen" for a writing instrument and "pin" for something you stick a poster up with ... and for us southerners they're the same word: "Pee-yun").

"Barbershoppers" are some of the most enthusiastic, most encouraging, friendliest and funniest guys you'll ever meet. When I first joined the chorus four years ago, they  gave me a hero's welcome. A couple of the guys took me under their wings and got me up to speed. We have new guys every week who all get the same great treatment.

My greatest Barbershop thrill has been singing the National Anthem at Asheville Tourist games, and at the championship games of the Southern Conference Basketball Tournament. Our arrangement is awesome, we have it down pat, and we always "lock and ring" the chords. And we always get a standing ovation (ha ha--get it? People are already standing up for the National Anthem). Seriously, it's a thrill to sing for that many people, and you can tell that they really appreciate our rendition.


OK, there's a little peek into one aspect of my life. If you're not busy Saturday, I hope you'll think about driving over to Waynesville and checking out our show!

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