Over the past couple of decades, the MUSIC category has been through a few different iterations of what we perceive as acceptable in contest regarding “the barbershop style”, how strongly we feel from a scoring standpoint about performances and arrangements that start to become “non-stylistic”, and how we assess any perceived issues regarding”the barbershop style”. One item the BHS MUS Board of Review has discussed recently involves finding ways to ensure that we’re all aligned on these different “non-stylistic” issues. To that end, we’ve come up with an exercise that we hope will be beneficial AND fun.
All references to “barbershop style” above are in quotes, ONLY to emphasize that the purpose of this exercise is NOT to discuss what that is. For an up-to-date description of that, please refer to the latest version of the BHS C&J manual (https://www.barbershop.org/files/documents/contestandjudging/C&J%20Handbook.pdf) under MUSIC Category description, item II MUSICAL ELEMENTS and III PERFORMANCE ELEMENTS (which elaborate on these to some degree). Instead, the purpose of the exercise is to focus on the elements of the performance that would be directly related to barbershop style, and the impact this has on your MUSIC score.
Over the years we’ve had a few different methodologies for score reductions resulting from non-stylistic elements, ranging from a clear assessment of a penalty that was recorded on the scoring summary to an assessment of the overall MUSIC score that resulted in a lower score holistically. As we’ve all likely found in practice, some style issues may be more reasonable to assess holistically based on how they affect the performance, while others may easier to assess and explain with a straight reduction of certain amount of points. For example – songs that have a lower count of consonant chords (like dominant 7ths and triads) may inherently result in a lower score because of inherently lower consonance. Some songs may be performed incredibly musically and artistically, but be predominantly non-homorhythmic, which may be more straightforward to assess (and discuss) with a score reduction. Part of the intent of this exercise is to get a better feel for HOW each of us most naturally assesses non-stylistic impacts to our score – holistically or with a reduction.
For this exercise there are 20 performances – at least several of which should be very fun to watch! With each performance comes a youtube link and an opportunity for you to give feedback on how this performance impacts you from a barbershop style perspective – and ONLY from a barbershop style perspective. Please watch/listen to a performance, and then check a few boxes, letting us know if there are non-stylistic factors that would cause you to reduce your score by 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 15-20, or 20+ points, OR if any affect on your score would happen holistically…and which specific feature(s) of the arrangement you may have found non-stylistic.