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NextGeneration Music FAQs

NextGeneration Song Choice and Contestability FAQs

What makes a song contestable?

For an in-depth answer to this question, please visit http://www.barbershop.org/competitions/contest-judging-system/

Contestable arrangements feature the following:

  • Melody has to be predominantly in the second voice (Tenor II).
  • A harmonic structure based on major tonality, using mostly diatonic and secondary dominant progressions.
  • A cappella performance of four distinct vocal parts singing similar rhythms and similar, understandable lyrics.

Contestable arrangements do not feature:

  • Harmonizations based on jazz concepts, counterpoint structures, or anything like Eric Whitacre.
  • Patriotic, religious, or explicit themes (… either lyrical, musical, visual or otherwise)
  • Any form of instrumental support or accompaniment.


How do I assess the suitability of a song for my students?

Tenor (Tenor I) – Viable falsetto. Unchanged voice works well here. Range B3-C5

Lead (Tenor II) – Sings melody well. Confident performer. Range D3-F5

Baritone (Bass I/Bari) – Strong harmony singer. Excellent aural skills. Range C3-E4

Bass (Bass II/Bass) – Good resonance. Holds pitch well. Forward placement. Range G2-C4

Beginning ensembles will find quick success with arrangements that feature simple rhythmic treatments, a mostly homophonic texture, and an accessible tessitura.


How can I adapt a TTBB arrangement for SSAA or SATB?


These arrangements can be transposed upwards anywhere from a minor third to perfect fifth. You may discover certain phrases that may need to be revoiced as the ranges for TTBB to SSAA are different.


This adaption requires switching some of the voice parts.

The entire arrangement might need to be transposed down a half-step or a full-step.

The Lead (Tenor II): This part should be given to the Sopranos and transposed up an octave.

The Tenor (Tenor I): Most of the time, this part can be kept as written and given to the Altos.

The Baritone (Bass I/Baritone): Most of the time, this part can be kept as written and given to the Tenors.

The Bass (Bass II): This part should be given to the Basses as written.

Depending on tessitura the barbershop Tenor and Baritone parts may need to be switched between the Altos and the (SATB) Tenor.

If this switch is made be aware of certain notes that my now be out of your singers’ range. Revoicing may need to occur.

It is not advisable to adapt a typical, barbershop quartet arrangement for less than four voices.


How do I prepare my students for the the BHS scoring process?

  • The BHS contest process is not unlike what you have experienced in your Large Group Festivals, Solo and Ensemble Festivals, Heritage/Music In The Parks Festivals or other adjudications/contests where you may involve your ensembles. Your ensemble will be placed in a schedule and you will perform for judges. Prepare your ensembles as you would for any other festival.
  • Diction in the barbershop style is a casual style of conversational, American English. It is not formal choral diction (ala Robert Shaw).
  • At the conclusion of the event the BHS does offer an opportunity for you and your students to receive time with one of the judges for a discussion of your performance and suggestions for improvement.

Here is a general, comparative rating scale. (It is a rough comparison and not meant to be exact.)