7 December, 2020

Barbershop Music: Not Black Music

Posted by Socrates in music, Socrates, Western civilization, Western culture, White music at 11:55 am | Permanent Link

While 4-part-harmony “barbershop” music (meaning four men singing a cappella together, with no instruments used) was sometimes performed by Black people in the 1800s, it was largely a White thing, and it still is [1]. Today, PC historians try to claim that Blacks invented barbershop music. Nope. Blacks didn’t invent peanut butter, either. One of the earliest barbershop groups in America was Dan Emmett’s Virginia Minstrels, who were White men who sung in blackface. (Emmett wrote the famous song “Dixie”: “I wish I was in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten; Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land”).

American barbershop music, which was here as early as 1843, grew from actual barbershop singing (in barbershops; hence the name) in England, and was popular here until circa 1925, when jazz began to eclipse it. (English barbershop music used instruments, unlike in America, although Emmett’s group did play instruments as well as sing a cappella).

Today, you can hear barbershop music all over America, and it’s good music with lots of talented White singers. It’s difficult to sing a cappella well since there are no instruments to hide any mistakes that you make.

More about barbershop music [Here; a .PDF file]. (Consider this quote from the .PDF file about barbershop music/ethnicity: “While the Black quartets influenced the barbershop tradition, the latter was primarily centered on both White culture and White participation as it continued to develop.”).

Here is a famous barbershop group, The Buffalo Bills.


[1] the 4 harmony parts are: soprano, alto, tenor and bass

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