Thursday, February 1, 2007

Diigo Entry and Profiling and Evaluating a Blog (#2)

Heroes and Legends « Droo’s Clues (drooellis Droo's Clues 21 Dec. 2006)

  • This blog talks about some of the old quartets that were influential to the author. It also mentions how he is going to be competing in a quartet with a few people that he looks up to.
    - post by floydbarbershop

Below, one of the best trend-setting champion quartets; the Confederates of 956. 2 Rebels and 2 Yankees, the Confederates used this image as simply a vehicle. Unlike today, there was no agenda, political statement, or anything BUT a great costume and songlist that went along with songs about the South.

  • The Confederates truly were a trendsetting quartet that in many ways helped to shape barbershop as a style.
    - post by floydbarbershop
What is its name and subject?

Heroes and Legends

This Blog is about various quartets that have influenced the author and how they have taken over, in his mind, the places of famous athletes for example. Instead of looking up to sports stars he now looks up to trendsetting quartets in the barbershop genre.

Who writes it?


What is their relation to the field?

This person is a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society and is also an active participant in the world of competitive barbershop. In the Blog he not only mentions some of the quartets that were influential to his experience in the society, but also the fact that he will be competing with some barbershop "legends" in a "throwback" contest. The legends he refers to are members of champion quartets and the contest is more like the old style of barbershop that was judged under different categories and standards than in current contests.

Where are they located in the field?

This person is not only a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society., but is also the Assistant Director of Membership to the society. His job consists of devising new ways of bringing in new members to the society as well as keeping older members current on their dues and continuing to be involved.
How frequently do they post?

How popular is the blog (by activity and/or technorati rank)

The blog has had over 1000 hits. If you think of this only in terms of percentage of society members, it is less than 3%.


How well does this blog relate to your work?

It relates to my work in terms of subject matter, but it does not take the same approach in terms of attempting to reach a broader audience by beginning to define barbershop. In detailing some of his heroes, the blog does reference older quartets, but falls short in explaining their historical importance to the genre.

To what extent is it scholarly, academic, professional?

This blog is not necessarily scholarly at all, Even when some information is presented in a somewhat historic sense, it is more for personal reasons to merely set up other bits of information such as how this person is excited to be singing in a contest with people he looks up to.

How rich or detailed are its posts?

The posts are more detailed than others that I have found, but there are only two related to the subject, and in terms of what I am looking for as far as useful information or thoughtful insight, this blog falls short.

Who is its audience? How relevant to the field are they?

The audience seems to be whoever stumbles across this blog because it is not something that would be searched for otherwise.

How might this blog feed your work?

If this author continues to write blogs on this subject matter, and perhaps delves deeper into barbershop's past then it would become a useful tool in any search that I would make related to this subject.

How will your site differ?

My site will differ because I am going to be the first person to write a blog detailing a way to incorporate the rich history of the society while hopefully beginning discussions on methods that would update the society's use of the Internet in a manner that would include more people. The intention would be to eventually create a central location, or even an easily connected web of locations, that would allow interested parties to have a place to come to for information. This would also be a place where people could easily communicate with one another. In short, a large barbershop meeting on the Internet.

Questions About Resources (#1)

Characterize and categorize your resources and links to related blogs.

In general, the resources and links to other blogs on my page comprise of whatever information I could find regarding my subject matter. Unfortunately, due to the fact that a large portion of the society that makes up the network of barbershop singers are senior citizens, very few websites are user friendly and even fewer contain a substantial amount of information.

Discuss what the resources have to offer.

Even though these sites might be difficult to navigate, there are not many other credible resources on the internet regarding this subject. The links that refer to a younger quartet and chorus' respective pages are great examples of how the society could update itself. By simply making more information accessible on the page, it would not overload your eyes with frivolous content such as buttons that lead to other pages with only more buttons. The blogs do have some insight to offer in their ability to connect the readers with moments and experiences the authors have had. One of the best aspects of singing barbershop are the experiences you have with other barbershoppers and the stories that are told at various meetings or while just hanging out with friends.

Discuss audiences and goals of the blogs.

The audiences for the blogs are intended to be the various networks and communities where the blogs are posted. Two blogs, for example were found on Myspace profiles by searching through friends, or by looking at people's profiles in a group dedicated specifically to Barbershop Singing. Other blogs were found through class resources and things such as google searches. These blogs were intended to be seen by almost anybody who would be interested in the subject as they were easily available through a quick Internet source. Although, it must also be brought to attention that even though these blogs were easy to fins, there were not very many others on the subject. It was very difficult to find meaningful or comprehensive blogs or articles on this subject whereas it is easy to find somebody who is either referencing goofy guys in straw hats singing barbershop or mistakenly categorizing all kinds of a cappella or doo-wop as barbershop music.

Are these bloggers tapping into the same online community?

When considering the answer to this question I cannot help but doubt that many people even search for this topic on the Internet. But for those that due they would most likely all come to the same limited results. Hopefully, as more young people are given the opportunity to share in this music-making endeavor the technology will begin to catch up with the network of its participants. This would help to bring the more experienced barbershoppers into the Internet world as well as make it more easily accessible and user-friendly for younger people. It would be amazing if somebody would search under the heading of a cappella, doo-wop or even singing in general and be able to come up with blogs, articles and other resources that would be barbershop related.

What is left out or omitted from their discussions?

The most glaring thing that is left out from most of these discussions is the sense that the subjects are truly routed in what can be viewed as definably factual material. There is not any one source that could be looked to for credible information should anybody become interested in the subject. Barbershops beginnings, for example, have a fairly well known history within the society. Its members know that men used to gather in barbershops and sing the popular songs of the era in a harmonic style that eventually developed into a genre. However, this is not information that one could easily find on the Internet and is not in a location that is ideal for either perspective members or even people who stumble across one of the various society websites.

Do the resources add something Internet-specific or replicate a print resource?

The resources that are available do add Internet-specific information to this subject, but they do not go far enough. Due to the fact that this hobby if so unique and relatively small in terms of percentage of population, there is no viable means of communication other than the internet. For somebody in California who wants to send out information about a show to people on the East Coast they simply need to send out an email to the proper parties that are involved with groups on the East Coast. However there are not enough sites that are informational about the history of the society, the best way to join a chapter, information on groups and when they are performing, etc… These sites and this information does exist, however many of them are not connected. There is a reason it is called the web. Because all of these things should be “woven” together. They are after all related.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

One Of The Best Weeks Of My Life

Hey Jovani!

I couldn't agree more with you about what an awesome week we all had last summer. Thinking back to our week in Indianapolis kind of just makes the entire experience seem surreal. It definitely flew by too quickly, but there are memories from that week that I will never forget. First of all, how could we forget the way we put the performance of out lives on stage! Sometimes, groups pump themselves up so much that when the curtain comes up and lights are all on, they panic a bit and begin doing things that are out of character, like rushing or running out of breath in unfortunate places in the song. I am just so proud that we had what is quite possibly one of the most poised performances to ever hit the International stage. I certainly hope that we can do it again next year in Denver and really show them what we are all about, by winning the entire competition.

I would also like to thank you for breaking the ice for everybody by getting on the microphone on the bus ride to the arena and setting the mood for the chorus. We were loose and ready to go because we got all of our nerves out through laughter and just being with friends. You said it yourself. What made the week so spectacular was the people we were with. The sense of fraternity amongst the chorus certainly made all of the hard work enjoyable and worthwhile, and it is in large part why I am so proud of being a member of the chorus and equally importantly, your friend.

Jovani's Blog

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Fraternity, Brotherhood & Barbershop (#3)

What is barbershop music? What are chords? Which types of chords give barbershop harmony its distinct sound? All of these questions will be answered shortly, but together, they ultimately point to the more important and all-inclusive question. How is it relative to my life and why should I care? If you are a fan of music in any way, shape or form the answer is simple. Barbershop harmony is one of the only forms of truly American music. Unlike most other forms of music it does not have roots in Europe, Africa, or even Asia. It is part of what can truly be considered American history. During the late 1800's and early 1900's men used to gather at local barbershops, much like the youth of today congregate at Starbucks. Instead of talking about what new movie just came out or discussing going to a concert later in the weekend, these men would stand around and sing the popular songs of the day. As time passed it developed into four part chords in order to include more harmonies, and eventually into barbershop singing, as we know it today.

The types of chords that truly give barbershop its unique sound are called dominant 7th chords. Many types of music use these chords. Although they are not so common in today’s popular music they are very prevalent in many types of classical music, blues, hymn-style songs, and jazz. Barbershop, however, contains primarily dominant 7th chords, often times in place of other types of chords.

Classical music, for example, usually follows a pattern called the circle of fifths that dictates how chords follow the melody of the piece. Barbershop also follows this same circle of fifths, but instead of having all of the chords happen naturally, it will often add a 7th to a chord even if it wouldn’t have been there according to the rules of classical chord structure.

This was originally done in order to include all four singers on their own note in the chord. But the sound was so different from other styles of music that it developed into its own style. At that point in time people basically just added as many dominant 7th chords as they could. Currently, one third of the chords in a song have to be dominant 7th chords in order for the piece to be considered barbershop. That is not to say that a song cannot be in a barbershop style with less dominant 7th chords, but it would not be truly a barbershop song.

It is worthwhile to note that these men meet regularly enough to develop a style of music just because they enjoyed singing and making music. It is obvious that they all enjoyed each other’s company. Had they not, they simply would have chosen to spend their time elsewhere. They kept meeting because they shared a sense of fraternity.

This Fraternity is now known as the Barbershop Harmony Society. It was originally founded by a man named O.C. Cash, under the acronym of SPEBSQSA. The acronym was so lengthy to serve as a jab at President Franklin D. Roosevelt who had developed many social programs during the depression era that all had acronyms to refer to their lengthy titles. SPEBSQSA stands for the Society for Preservation and Encouragement of BarberShop Quartet Singing in America.

Since its establishment in the early 1940’s, the society had at one point grown to over 30,000 members. The society still boasts over 20,000 members, but had seen a steady decline in the past few decades. When people refer to the society dying out they mean it in a completely literal way. Most of the members are above the age of 65 and there are more deaths of active members each year than there are new members who have joined the society.

There is hope, however, as younger people are starting to form their own choruses and become members of the society. The pioneers of this recent trend formed a chorus under an existing chapter’s charter in 2002. This chapter was the Westminster Chapter, and the New Westminster Chorus, replaced the Westminster Harmony Showcase Chorus as the performing chorus of the chapter. This is a perfect example of how many of the dwindling numbers could be rejuvenated using young members as the basis for replenishing membership throughout the society. The older members don’t necessarily have to stop performing, this was just a special case.

At the time these young men approached the older members of the chapter. There were only eight men left. These men didn’t even meet regularly and when they did, they didn’t always even have enough parts to sing through songs. They certainly were not able to put together a chorus capable of performing and competing and had no real draw to recruit new members with other choruses and chapters not far away.

When presented with the opportunity of being part of the foundation for a young group of guys to start a new chorus they leapt at the chance, and it certainly has paid off. This chorus has become the crown jewel of the society and a model for instituting youth programs and young choruses all over the county. It has been less than five years, but the membership of the chapter is over 60 and will likely be in the 80’s by the time the next International Convention comes around in July of ’07.

There are many chapters who do not need this kind of system in order to survive due to their physical location and their ability to consistently draw younger members (at least younger than their average age). But for the many chapters with dwindling numbers and choruses that are not strong enough to perform with the small numbers and the lower level of singing and musicianship they will be able to kill two birds with one stone.

By allowing and encouraging young men to come sing with them or even in their place they are planning for the future of the society. Also it can serve as a musical outlet for many young men who, for example, might not have a place to sing once they have left their high school or college level choir. Musically inclined people all share a deep necessity to have an outlet for musical expression. Barbershop can serve as that outlet as well as be a place of brotherhood.