Barbershop glossary and acronyms

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Dictionary of Barbershop Terms

A & R - Analysis and Recommendation, often called Aggravation and Ridicule.

Afterglow - A cast party after a show or after a chapter meeting.

After-Afterglow - A smaller, more private party that takes place after an afterglow.

AHSOW - Ancient Harmonious Society Of Woodshedders.

Ambigesturous - The ability to perform the choreo moves from either side of the risers.

Barbershop 7th - A flat 7th chord used frequently in barbershop arrangements. Example: C - E - G - Bb

Barbershop Brats - Children of barbershoppers, which often become members, a precious commodity.

Barbershop Squat - A physical stance at the end of a song that looks amateurish and hokey.

Barbershop Widow/Widower - The spouse of a very active barbershopper, who doesn't participate in the hobby.

Barberteens - Teenaged children of barbershoppers, the smartest of all.

Barbertots - Young children of barbershoppers, also a precious commodity.

Barberpole cat songs - The 12 songs every Barbershopper should know. See the Barberpole Cat songbook in your new member kit.

Barbershop seventh - The cornerstone chord of the barbershop style, consisting of the root, the Major third above, the perfect fifth above, and the minor seventh above, as in a chord consisting of F, A, C, E-flat.

Bell chord - A musical arranging device in which a chord is sung as a succession of notes in successive beats by each voice in turn such as in "Bye Bye Blues" by the Suntones.

BOTY/BOTM - Barbershopper of the Year/Month—an award presented by many chapters and districts recognizing outstanding efforts.

Belt - Sing loudly.

Bipartite/Tripartite - Able to sing multiple voice parts.

Bisectional - A person that can sing more than one voice part...hopefully, not simultaneously.

Blead - A fifth voice part consisting of part lead and part baritone, usually sung by a member who has been absent for a while.

Borneo Barbershop - An exercise where the bass is sung an octave high OR the tenor an octave low.

Breathing Dips - Singers who breathe where they are not supposed to.

Bust a Chord - Same as peeling paint.

Car-Toy - The cassette tape one carries in the car to learn ones part. Directors use this method to describe a phrase of a song they want a section to work on in the car with repetition.

Cascade - A musical device where a unison note spreads to form a chord, also called "waterfall".

Chameleon - A person who can sing all four parts.

Chestnut - An old familiar favorite song.

Chinese Seventh - The second inversion of a 7th chord, where the tenor note is under the lead note. (It's not necessarily or even common that the tenor is below the lead, but rather that the root of the chord is just above the 7th. That usually puts the tenor a step above the lead. Then it's just a first inversion (or third inversion, depending on how you look at it).

Chordgasm/Chordasm - The climax of musical stimulation often resulting in goosebumps and raised hairs. See Eargasm.

Chorditorium - A convention afterglow where non-qualifying quartets can strut their stuff.

Chordus Interruptus - When the director stops the chorus just before a paint-peeling tag.

Chordworship - Holding a chord longer that necessary just to enjoy it.

Chorus Dips - Singers who do exactly the opposite of what the director asks.

Coning - Adjusting volume inversely with pitch to balance a chord.

Cookie - A pitch-pipe.

Crank - Sing loudly.

Crow - A self-confessed non-singer who performs mundane chores nobody else wants to do. See Invaluable.

Diction Dips - Singers who exaggerate the hard consonants.

Diphthong Dips - Singers who over-emphasize the diphthongs.

District - One of the 16 geographic and administrative regions of the Society.

Eagles - A politically correct term for "Crows".

Ear Candy - An audible overtone or harmonic that produces an especially pleasing chord.

Eargasm - The climax of musical stimulation often resulting in goosebumps and raised hairs. See Chordgasm.

Evaluation - Analysis and recommendation session—the postcompetition performance review provided by the judges.

Fettucine Singing - Sliding between notes when clean intervals are dictated.

Fifth-wheeling - Joining in without invitation when a quartet is singing; a breach of manners. Wait for the quartet to finish, then ask if you can sing along.

Float - Blending a part into a chord gracefully, usually tenor.

Frank H. Thorne Chapter-at-Large - An “international” chapter for men who are not active in a SPEBSQSA chapter.

Gang Singing - A collection of singers that are not an organized unit.

Garbage Part - A negative term for the baritone part.

Glimmer - An after, after, after-glow.

Groaner - A bad joke, story, or pun.

Grundy - Same as Scissors Movement.

Gut-Buster - A robust up-tune.

Hang Ten - Standing on the risers with ten toes over the edge.

Harmony Foundation - A separate, but related organization to SPEBSQSA, the Foundation raises funds for Society programs, seeks grants and sponsorships for worthwhile barbershop projects; and maintains an endowment fund for the Society.

Harmony Hall - Barbershop Harmony Society headquarters, located, formerly in Kenosha, Wisconsin, now in Nashville (late 2007)

Harmony University - Week-long summer educational program for Barbershoppers, held at Missouri Western State College.

Honker - a person who sings loudly and/or in a garish manner, often a bass singer.

Hospitality Room - A party room at a convention for informal entertainment, socializing, and stale pretzels.

Hum Spot - The placement of one's voice that makes the mask resonate. 

Kibber - An endearing term for a barbershopper that prefers to Keep It Barbershop!

Laser Lungs - A singer, usually a tenor, who sings high notes very loudly and out of balance.

Lead - The man who sings the melody part. The lead line is the melody of a song.

Lead Dodging - The art of woodshedding the baritone part, also called Lead Avoidance

Leaner - A person that does not have the courage or ability to sing on his/her own, or is not well-rehearsed in the music.

Mic Testers - A quartet or chorus which sings at the beginning of a contest to ensure the sound systems   performance.

Oh Yeah - An utterance from the chorus, when the director says "for the 2000th time, you're supposed to get soft here".

Oh Yeah Song - A song with an unfamiliar verse and a very familiar chorus. Refers to audience's comments as chorus begins.

Onion Skin - A minute adjustment in pitch.

Opus Interruptus - When the hotel security guard stops you in the middle of a song, usually at 3am, Sunday morning.

Overtones - Tones of higher pitch that are present in every musical sound and whose presence determines the quality of the musical sound. Chords locked in tune and proper volume relationship “ring” with reinforced overtones -  A harmonic produced by proper intonation, tuning, and vowel formation.

Patter - A verbose variation on the theme of a refrain as in "Down Our Way", also jokes and stuff between songs.

Peeling Paint - Locking and ringing a chord.

Pick-up Quartet - Any four singers, not an established quartet, singing a song they commonly know. i.e. a Barberpole Cat song.

Ping - Focused, bright ringing sound.

Polecat - Referring to a BarberPole Cat song, a collection of common songs for any/every Joe Barbershopper.

Post - A note, long in duration, sung usually by a lead singer, around which a tag is formed.

Registered quartet - A quartet whose name and personnel have been catalogued at BHS. Registration gives the quartet exclusive use of its name. Only registered quartets may sing in competition. 

Riser Rat - Any chorus member who is not in the front row.

Round Robin - An activity wherein four or more woodshedders sit in a circle and progressively rotate voice parts.

Scissors Movement - Two voice parts that cross each other, while the other two voice sustain, leading to an inversion of the chord.

Shoulder-Raiser - A listeners physical reaction to a singer who doesn't quite reach his/her note.

Singlish - A method of singing a song as if one was speaking the part, phonetically connective.

Skunk Song - A melody essentially useless for woodshedding purposes, because of an existing familiar arrangement.

Slab - To sing slowly through a measure chord by chord, also called blocking.

Singing Around - Secretly singing with three other people in order to establish a new/better quartet. 

Spank - Great vocal execution as in "Boy that lead spanks!"

Swipe - A progression of two or more chords sung on a single word or syllable; hallmark of the barbershop style.

Tag - A coda; the ending of a song, often repeating the final words and designed to make a complete and satisfying arrangement.

Tag Quartet - Four singers begin a song and one by one are replaced by a new singer, tagged out if you will.

Tear-jerker - A tender, sentimental ballad that evokes emotion.

Tiddly - A musical embellishment, usually by a baritone.

Toe-Tapper - An up-tune with great rhythmic pulse.

Tune - As a noun, the melody of a song; as a verb, to blend and make a more accurate or pleasing sound.

Train Wreck - When one or more parts sing a wrong note and the resulting chord sounds like a railway calamity.

VLQ - Very large quartet or mini-chorus, if you will.

Wall of Sound - Seamless, continuous vocalization.

Whomp-Ping Ratio - The ratio of resonance to ping in the voice.

Woodshedding - Impromptu quartet singing without arrangements; singing by ear.

Yawner -  A very boring and poor performance of a song.

Yodel-Chord - A phenomenon in woodshedding, where two voices land on the same note and simultaneously move to the missing part.A glossary of barbershop terms