Thameside Harmony sings a wide variety of songs, most of which are in the barbershop tradition. Whatever we are singing we have fun while doing so as the idea is to sing with expression and often a smattering of humour. We’ve sung at many concerts, or ‘sing outs’ as we refer to them, over the years – for charitable organisations, old peoples’ homes, activity groups, festivals, fairs, events, local restaurants and at church concerts.
As well as singing classic standards like A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, and Alexander’s Ragtime Band (go to our Have a listen page) we sing pop staples from down the decades including Downtown, Mamma Mia and Bohemian Rhapsody. This year we will be learning an arrangement of Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend and the massive pop hit from 1999 originally by Des’ree, You Gotta Be. Whilst some songs in our repertoire remain so popular that they have become evergreens, we switch some songs in and out according to the audience, the time available, or for variety. At Christmas we have an entirely separate repertoire of carols and other Christmas songs.
We sing in four voice parts – Bass, Baritone (Bari), Lead and Tenor, the names reflecting the pitch of the male barbershop parts. Barber Shop Singing began in America in the last half of the 19th Century. Barber Shop Quartets originated with African American men socializing in barbershops.
Essentially Tenor roughly sings in the range of a Soprano (high!), Lead is a mix of soprano and alto (some higher notes but mostly middle range), Bari is more like the Alto range (a bit lower than most female singers on the radio) and Bass the Contralto (you have a deep singing voice). So, there is a part to suit everyone. Many of our members do not read music - although it can be helpful if you have this skill. We provide teach tracks which you sing along to till you know the part and we also provide sheet music.
Our LABBS (Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers) membership (see History page) means we can benefit from training given by experienced singing judges or competition winners which ensures we keep our singing and performance skills up to date. On occasion we have entered the LABBS convention, which is the singing competition open to all affiliated clubs. In 2007 we won the top of division three award – which was quite a surprise to us all!
Each week we get the chance to do a bit of socialising, including sharing cake if it is someone’s birthday. In summer we have a social meet up usually at a member’s house and garden, and we have a Christmas do with our affiliated men’s chorus Magna Carta, when we usually entertain each other with a few informal renditions of songs we know and love. This is a tradition borne of many years sharing the same rehearsal venue (until recently) and at times the same Musical Director.
Many of our members have stayed with us for many years, but we want to encourage ladies of all ages to join to carry us into the future. On one singing course we had a 14-year-old girl come along! We also welcome those with secondary skills who are perhaps willing/keen to do a bit more than just sing, once they feel well ensconced in the group, such as join the committee or just help doing a bit of organising or helping with publicity.