|The Voice Parts
Barbershop harmony is vocal harmony produced by four parts: tenor, lead, baritone, and bass. It is different from any other kind of choral or group singing.
TENOR: a harmony part sung
consistently above the lead. It
should not be confused with
soprano of traditional singing. The
tenor should have a light, sweet,
pure tone that will compliment, but
not overpower the lead voice.
approximately the same range as
the lead. The baritone harmony
notes are sung mostly below, but
sometimes above, the lead.
Baritones must consistently adjust
their balance to accommodate
their position in the chord.
LEAD: is the melody and is sung in the
range between A below middle C and C
above middle C.
BASS: singers should have a rich mellow
voice and be able to sing the E flat below
middle C easily. Basses should not be
confused with the alto of conventional
groups. Many altos can sing the bass part,
but others are much better suited to lead or
baritone, depending on their range and
When barbershoppers get together, they do what comes naturally - sing! However, they may not all know the same song. So we commonly learn the last few lines of a song (referred to as a
tag). This part of the song normally contains very interest chord progressions that are a lot of fun to sing. Here's a tag for you to have fun with.
From the “bottom up,” the four voices of barbershop harmony are
bass, baritone, lead, and tenor. The female bass sings in the male tenor
range, the baritone and lead are roughly in the alto range, and the
tenor is in the soprano range. The melody is usually sung by the
leads. Basses generally provide the root of the chord. Tenors add the
“natural harmony,” and baritones take what’s left over to complete the
chord. (Of course, this takes a highly talented person with a superior
ear, as any baritone can tell you!) A good soprano is not always a
good barbershop tenor. In a choir, the soprano assumes the “take
charge” role and everyone blends with her. In barbershop, the feisty
lead takes this role, and tenors must harmonize with her! Also, many
sopranos have been trained to add color and warmth to their voices
through the use of vibrato, which is undesirable in barbershop.
Prairie Echoes Chorus
Master Director Donna Bates
Tuesdays 7:30 - 10:00 pm
900 Normal Road
DeKalb, Illinois 60115
Post Office Box 139
DeKalb, IL 60115
Speaking of Vibrato . . .
Barbershoppers work hard to keep this to a minimum, since chords
cannot “lock” if voices are varying in pitch at different speeds. A
slight vibrato or a tone produced with “color” is desirable in the lead
voice; however, all other voices should strive to produce a clear tone
without vibrato. (Good breath support helps here).
We’re All In This Together
There are no soloists in barbershop harmony, so blending is the
name of the game! Individual voices should not be discernible. If
you can’t hear the people around you, back off the volume a little;
you may be too loud! A successful barbershopper must listen to
those around her, since we have no instrumental accompaniment to
cover any discord.
You probably sing high notes lightly and broaden the tone as you go lower into your range. A barbershop
chorus strives to form a similar “sound cone.” (Picture the familiar food group pyramid with grains on the
bottom, fruits/vegetables next, then meats, and finally fats. I’m not suggesting that tenors are fat, or that
we need six servings of basses daily, but the theory is the same.
The basses at the bottom of the cone provide a broad foundation. Baritones are next on the cone, but must
remember to “lighten” when they occasionally sing above the leads. Similarly, leads must “broaden” when
they go below the baritones. Both baritones and leads will do a lot of mixing of “head voices” and “chest
voices” as they sing in the middle register (the A below middle C and the C above middle C). If you are
unfamiliar with these terms, don’t worry; you’ll hear more. Tenors need to be “light”; a “heavy” tenor
might be better suited to the lead section if she has the range.The basses at the bottom of the cone provide
a broad foundation. Baritones are next on the cone, but must remember to “lighten” when they
occasionally sing above the leads. Similarly, leads must “broaden” when they go below the baritones.
Both baritones and leads will do a lot of mixing of “head voices” and “chest voices” as they sing in the
middle register (the A below middle C and the C above middle C). If you are unfamiliar with these terms,
don’t worry; you’ll hear more. Tenors need to be “light”; a “heavy” tenor might be better suited to the lead
section if she has the range.
When the director asks tenors to back off, basses to come out, etc., she is trying to achieve the proper
balance according to the cone.
(Parts taken from an article written by Susan Matlock)
Our organization is divided into regions. The Prairie Echoes is part of the Lake
Michigan Region 3, which includes parts of Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.
Prairie Echoes Chorus is part of Sweet Adelines International, a large worldwide organization made up of nearly 27,000 women
from all walks of life who share the love of barbershop harmony. The organization encompasses more than 1200 registered quartets and
|Prairie Echoes Chorus | 2012 Web design by: email@example.com
PRESS RELEASE: The Prairie Echoes Chorus of DeKalb, Illinois received 1st
place small chorus at their regional competition on May 5, 2012 in Grand Rapids,
Michigan. The 1st place chorus winner overall had 85 members and the 2nd place
chorus had 52 members. Prairie Echoes Chorus, with 16 members on stage placed
3rd overall. This is a huge accomplishment. We attribute our wonderful success to
having a very experienced master director who is also a wonderful teacher and
mentor. Donna Bates, director of Prairie Echoes, comes to us from Crystal Lake and
has been a past international champion quartet member and now sings in her quartet
"On Q", which placed fourth on Friday, May 4th in the regional quartet competition.
Donna also sings with the 2012 international champion chorus, Melodeers from
Northbrook, Illinois. The Melodeers Chorus has 146 members. Two Prairie Echoes
Chorus members, Karen Stuedemann of Sycamore and Deb Walter of DeKalb also
belong to the chorus. Prairie Echoes member, Stacy Brockman, competed with her
quarter "Eclectic" at regional competition for quartets.
|We are available to perform for
your special occasion at anytime
during the year.
Past accomplishments of the chorus have been 2 times international champions in the Harmony Classic Small Competitions in San Antonio, Texas
and South Carolina and 2011 3rd place small chorus in Seattle, Washington. Our motto is "we are small, but 'mighty'." Our chorus consists of 18
amazing, remarkable women who have a love for singing in the barbershop style.
We are very proud of our three-generation members, Jackie Balon who sings bass and has been part of the chorus for 25 years, her daughter,
Teresa Balon who also sings bass, and Teresa's daughter, Jessica who experienced her first competition this year and sings lead. Jackie Balon
received the silver note award for her 25 years of participation with Prairie Echoes.
Prairie Echoes Chorus of DeKalb is preparing patriotic music for our upcoming parades and learning new music
for our Cabaret Show. During the summer months, we would like to extend an invitation to Edge of Town
Chorus and Western Lights Chorus and our new choruses to come out and visit us in DeKalb. Please call Jess
(815)761.5956 for directions and more info. We would love to have you sing with us. Please join us for
singing, friendship, food and fun! We meet Tuesday evenings from 7:30 to 10 pm at St. Paul Episcopal Church,
900 Normal Road, DeKalb. (In the basement) See you there!
JOIN US . . .