Whistling Barbershop

My first project for The Whistle Club is to gather a repertoire of songs to perform in the barbershop style.

Currently The Whistle Club has four whistling members to fit with the traditional arrangement of four part chords for every melody note in a homophonic texture (a texture in which two or more parts move together in harmony). Comprising of the lead melody, tenor, bass and baritone.

The first uses of the term were associated with African Americans. Henry notes that “The Mills Brothers learned to harmonize in their father’s barber shop in Piqua, Ohio. Several other well-known African American gospel quartets were founded in neighborhood barber shops, among them the New Orleans Humming Four, the Southern Stars and the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartette.”[4] Although the Mills Brothers are primarily known as jazz and pop artists and usually performed with instrumental accompaniment, the affinity of their harmonic style with that of the barbershop quartet is clearly in evidence in their music and most notably, perhaps, in their best-known gospel recording, “Jesus Met the Woman at the Well,” performed a cappella. Their father founded a barbershop quartet, the Four Kings of Harmony, and the Mills Brothers produced at least three records in which they sang a cappella and performed traditional barbershop material.

Barbershop harmonies remain in evidence in the a cappella music of the black church. The popular, Christian a cappella group Take 6[5] started in 1980 as The Gentleman’s Estate Quartet with the tight, four-part harmony by which barbershop music is known. Early on, the quartet added a fifth harmonic line, but the group’s pedigree, like barbershop music, is traceable directly to the black church—and the jazzy renditions of artists like the Mills Brothers, as well.

Any potential song ideas for The Whistle Club?