The Gentlemen of Harmony (G of H) is the chorus name of the Thunder Bay, Ontario chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, the largest all-male singing organization in the world. The chorus formed in 1972 when a few men interested in singing barbershop four-part harmony got together, organized and chartered a chorus. G of H was incorporated as a chapter in the Barbershop Harmony Society – Land O’ Lakes Division, in 1975 and as a not-for-profit corporation in 1999. The chorus was originally known as the Northern Notes (also Thunder Bay Barbershop Chorus) until 2009, when they renamed it the Gentlemen of Harmony chorus.
As members of the BHS the chorus has access to various musical and educational resources provided by the parent society which includes Harmony College and Directors College.
The Chorus supports the speech therapy department of George Jeffery’s Children’s Center and the Thunder Bay Food Bank program by performing twice each year. It also entertains at Homes for the Aged and other venues throughout the city. Our quartets and VLQ’s sing at birthday, weddings and anniversaries and other events when hired.
What is Barbershop Music?
Barbershop music is not so much a kind of music as it is a style of singing. It is a unique artform that originated in the Unite States in the late 1800s and has been enjoyed for over 100 years. The Barbershop Harmony Society (originally SPEBSQSA), formed in 1938 and is dedicated to preserving this American heritage.
Barbershop singing is a folk style of singing that developed in the late 1800s ostensibly by men socializing while waiting for shaves and haircuts at the barbershop, hence the name. The hallmark of our sound is the four-part harmony. The leads (almost) always sing the melody while the basses sing a foundation part establishing the harmonic chords. What sets barbershop apart from other styles is the tenor harmony above the melody, and a baritone part that fills out the chords somewhere between the tenor and bass.
Barbershop music is rich in chords often having all four singing parts on different notes. You’ll see a lot of use of the “7th” note in the scale to complete the “barbershop 7th chord”. Our style also takes advantage of playing with various other embellishments in music such as deviating the tempo to accomplish more emotion and definition of the lyric (especially in ballads). You’ll see added swipes to further stylize the music (the “bari’s” are well known for always finding places to suspend the chord and then resolve it). Many of the song endings have been enhanced for a more dramatic effect on the audience. Many times, one of the voice parts will “post”, or suspend the final note while the other three parts repeat lyrics or simply change the chords only to finally resolve back to the final chord of the song.