On The Barbershop Quartet: or, a brief primer outlining the rudiments of close-harmony singing drawn from my own experience in the field

(Guest post by Tama Boyle.)

I am currently in rehearsals for another show. This time the show is a musical – a kind of theatre in which I have not participated for a number of years now. The musical is The Who’s Tommy, opening at the Maidment in a couple of weeks’ time. If you’re at all familiar with the 1975 film version, you’ll recognize me as the Jack Nicholson character. Which is a good thing, because it means I get to have sex with Ann-Margret. Well, kind of…

Apart from Ann-Margret, I’m also doing a lot of chorus work. I enjoy it a great deal, despite the (in my opinion, incorrect) perception that it is largely faceless and thankless. I have always taken the old theatre saying that there are no such things as small rôles, only small actors, very much to heart.

I think the aspect of it I enjoy most is the seldom-arising opportunity it provides to sing really dense, sometimes eight-part harmonies. And when you hit it, nothing sounds more glorious than a chorus in full voice.

So, this singing deal has got me all nostalgic for my old barbershop days. It’s made me seriously consider re-forming my quartet. I do think, however, that after this many years a radical revamp might be in order, up to including a change of name and beyond.

The name I’m leaning towards at the moment is Odoürless Vagina. I’ve even planned out our discography: Shades of Odourless Vagina, followed by Vagina Theory. Then comes Here’s More Odourless Vagina! and A Very Odourless Christmas. We’ll inevitably be playing a lot of concerts, so eventually there’ll be Odourless Vagina: Live at Pompeii. I can already hear them talking…

“No, they don’t. They live on Crummer Road. I see them at Grey Lynn Foodtown all the time.”
“Yeah. I saw them at Woolworth’s just yesterday.”
“Think they just go round supermarkets waiting for people to recognize them? They seem the types.”
“It’s sad, really. Actually, I must mention – duck’s on special at Woolworth’s this week.”
“Oooh, I do like me a bit of duck.”
“Yeah. I picked myself up a couple. You should come round on Sunday; I’ll do us a roast.”
“I’ll make a pumpkin pie for pudding.”
“Steve, I’m dying. I have cancer.”

For Boyle-style dipping duck you will require quantities of:
duck breast (a number)
oranges (some)
chilli (enough)
rice wine vinegar (an inundation)
coriander (shitloads, or to taste)
shallots (a couple)
demerara (ladies’ choice)
salt and pepper
Duck: Yummy, yummy duck

Duck: Yummy, yummy duck

a. Render your oven to Duck: cook (approx. 450-460°K). Incise the top of the duck with stripes. Molest salt and pepper into the gashes thus made. Portage the inverted duck to a rack in a roasting tray. Cook in this fashion for 20-25 minutes before upending.
b. Distress the fluids and zest of some oranges into an implosive quantity of rice wine vinegar. Concatenate shards of coriander, shallots and chili to the mix, ensuring they are all of a form in keeping with the aesthetic of the work. Allow them to fraternize with salt and demerara.
c. Agitate, if necessary, then set aside to steep.
d. Approximately eight earth minutes after capsizing the breasts, inflame the oven further to make certain the skin ends up slightly harder than the rest of the duck.
e. Assuming sufficient quantities of dipping liquid are made, at this point you might like to paint the breasts with it. It will be cooked into the duck and make it luminescent. Continue intermittently till the duck is cooked through.
f. Enjoin the duck to rest. Reawaken it with slicing – the thinner, the better. Convey slices of duck to dipping liquid. Following immersion, enjoy by depositing in mouth, chewing and swallowing.
DUWK: If yours looks like this, youve done it wrong

DUKW: If yours looks like this, you’ve done it wrong

Practice. Retain the duck drippings in a dedicated pan (to which you’ll add subsequent duck drippings) as they seethe eggs into excellence. Complement. Furthermore, Boyle-style dipping duck is accompanied most auspiciously by Boyle’s baked mushroom guerrilla warfare & fennel portions.

Next Time: The seventh chord and its importance to and prevalence in barbershop and poultry preparation

5 Comments On The Barbershop Quartet: or, a brief primer outlining the rudiments of close-harmony singing drawn from my own experience in the field

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