Barbershop is a style of close harmony, unaccompanied vocal music. It originated in America but has spread all over the world. The music arrangements create a special ringing sound, rich in overtones. Barbershop singers work very hard to make every note and chord as accurate as possible., while they deliver the musical message with style and passion.
All barbershop music is arranged for four distinct voice parts – tenor, lead, baritone and bass. This requirement for at least four people is responsible for the classic ‘barbershop quartet’ of singers. But we don’t wear funny waistcoats or straw hats any more! A barbershop chorus or quartet has traditionally been either all women or all men, although there are increasing numbers of mixed choruses and quartets being established.
An international organisation named Sweet Adelines was formed in 1945, and still coordinates the women’s choruses and quartets around the world. There are currently about 23,000 members scattered across 15 countries, who make up over 500 choruses and 1200 quartets.
You can read more about the history of women’s barbershoph here