Here are some frequently asked questions that people have about us and our style of singing

What is the Barbershop style of singing?

It is four-part unaccompanied (sometimes known as ‘A cappella’) singing aimed to create an harmonic interpretation of a score by the use of rich chord progressions and other vocal devices such as rhythm enhancers.

How does Barbershop differ from other forms of four part A cappella singing?

It can be distinguished from other A cappella chorus singing such as SATB or TTBB by the way the individual parts are constructed, specifically with the tenor singing above the lead, so that the melody is not the highest part as it is in other styles, and appears in the middle of the chords. The bass sings the lowest notes and the baritone is added to complete the chords in order to achieve four-part harmony.

What type of Barbershop singing groups are there?

Quartets and Choruses. With quartets, each of the four parts is sung by one singer. Choruses can vary from small i.e. from around 12 voices to large i.e. up to about 70 voices.

Do ladies sing Barbershop?

Yes they do. Their national organisations are Sweet Adelines and the Ladies Association of Barbershop Singers.

Do new candidates for a Barbershop chorus need to audition?

Generally yes. Procedures vary from chorus to chorus. After a guest/visitor has demonstrated his interest in joining by attending for a number of weeks, he will be asked to learn his chosen part to two contrasting songs. After a further three or four weeks he will sing his part to one of these songs in a quartet with three other experienced members of the chorus. An experienced member who sings the same part as he will assess his performance. Should this be satisfactory, and a few weeks later, the second song, he will be invited to join the club. Should he not pass this audition, he will be helped to improve so that he may take the audition again. Most potential Sound Company chorus members attend 3 or 4 rehearsals before being expected to audition to become a member.

What skills are needed to sing Barbershop?

A sense of rhythm, good breath control and the ability to sing in tune. When singing with the chorus or quartet, it is very important to listen to the other parts being sung as they are sung. The Barbershop style is about producing harmonies with the voice. It is necessary to make the chords resonate by cooperating with the other parts and changing the frequencies by tiny amounts to maximise the resonance.

Do you need a striped apron, a moustache and scissors to sing barbershop?

No. None of the above, not even for the gentlemen. For concerts and sing outs it is customary for all members of the chorus to wear a uniform or costume. It is not unusual if you sing with a serious Barbershop chorus and attend the annual barbershop convention to give your performances a theatrical flavour and wear appropriate costumes.

Do you need to be able to sight-read scores?

No. Barbershop singers have widely varying degrees of musical knowledge and competence. To be able to sight-read music scores is an advantage, but more important is to have a good musical ear. Many people have this without realising it, as they have seldom or never been asked to use it! Choruses usually provide scores and teach tracks that allow you to learn at your own pace. Lacking the ability to sight-read a score is not usually a problem.

How friendly are Barbershop singing groups?

Barbershop clubs are very welcoming, as they are always looking for new members and will help them to enjoy their singing. UK Barbershop groups have the opportunity to get together once a year at a convention held alternately in the North and South of England. They have the opportunity to formally compete in competitions to compare their level of achievement with other groups. In the course of this, there is much social singing since there are some arrangements, which are known to all singers. Singing and comradeship go hand in hand in the Barbershop world. In Sound Company, once you've identified the part you want to sing you will normally be allocated a "mentor" in your section who will help and guide you through the first few weeks so that you can find your feet.

Why do I sing Barbershop?

The production of Barbershop chords is a challenge to get exactly right. The result is unique and very enjoyable.

How wide is the repertoire of Sound Company

Although the Barbershop style is fairly tightly defined if you want to compete, most Barbershop groups have wide repertoires so that it is easier to entertain and maintain the interest of audiences.

When & where does Sound Company rehearse?

We rehearse every Thursday evening at the Spire Church, South Street, Farnham, GU9 7QU from 7:45 pm to 9:45 pm with a 10-15minute break half-way through the evening.

Is there a Sound Company membership fee?

Yes, £20/month membership fee. This covers music score purchase/hire as well as BABS membership, insurance, uniform and room hire.

Does Sound Company have a Committee?

Yes, we have annually elected Officers comprising Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer as well as a Music Director responsible for the musical strategy and focus of the chorus. A chorus AGM is held every February.

How many public performances do you do in a year?

We perform publicly, on average’ about 3 to 4 times per year. These are a mixture of friendly ‘come & sing events’ and ticketed public performances.