The Society is governed by an elected board of directors; administered by a 30-person professional staff at Harmony Hall in Nashville, Tennessee.
Keep the Whole World Singing
We have affiliated barbershop organizations in Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Ireland, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands, and Great Britain. There are also barbershop singers in Denmark, Israel, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and parts of the former Soviet Union.
First meeting: April 11, 1938 at the Roof Garden of the Tulsa Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Activities of the Organization
Youth in Harmony
Designed to preserve the art form by introducing it to a new generation of singers, Harmony Explosion camps give high school men the opportunity to explore harmony with their peers. Bank of America Collegiate Barbershop Quartet Contest selects a national champion from colleges across the continent. Educator outreach introduces barbershop to music teachers at all grade levels.
The Society is focused on the education of members and the general public in music appreciation, particularly barbershop singing. For more details about the numerous development seminars and schools held each year, please refer to the Benefits of Membership section. The Society also publishes numerous manuals and produces videos on vocal techniques, singing skills, and chapter administration.
Barbershoppers donate money, time and performances to local charities. They also proudly support the Society’s official charity, Harmony Foundation, Inc. The Foundation mission is “to be a leading philanthropic force dedicated to perpetuating the barbershop harmony art form for present and future generations to enjoy.” Harmony Foundation coordinates support for special projects such as Directors College scholarships, Harmony Explosion Camps and the Interactive Learning Center/Museum/Hall of Fame facility scheduled to open in 2011 at the new headquarters facility in Nashville, Tennessee. In addition, the Foundation’s endowment program helps ensure the legacy of barbershop music.
One of the missions of the organization is advocacy at all levels of society to keep recreational and social singing an important part of our culture.
Performances enhance community cultural life, preserve the art form, and bring cheer to all. Quartets and choruses contribute more than 100,000 man-hours per year singing for more than half a million people at churches, schools, hospitals, senior centers, etc.
The Society distributes sheet music, audio and video recordings for entertainment and education.
Society-sanctioned contests in quartet and chorus singing are held at local, regional, and international levels. International champions are named in chorus, quartet, and college-quartet divisions at the international convention each July; international seniors champions named at the midwinter convention each January.
Barbershop Harmony Defined
Four-part, unaccompanied, close-harmony singing, with melody in the second voice, called the “lead.” Tenor (counter-tenor voice) harmonizes above the lead singer; bass sings the lowest harmonizing notes, and the baritone provides in-between notes, to form consonant, pleasing chords. Barbershop is a “melting pot” product of African-American musical devices, European hymn-singing culture, and an American tradition of recreational music. Melodies are in the vocal and skill range of the average singer, with lyrical emphasis on simple, heartfelt emotions.