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Brigade is looking for a few good men

Barbershoppers plan guest night

October 9, 2011
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

They come. They sing. They bond.

And now they're looking for others to join them in the fun.

The Harmony Brigade Barbershop Chorus plans two guest nights in the next few weeks to let other men see what's going on at rehearsals and to hear the kind of music being made by the group.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Terry Parker studies music during a recent Harmony Brigade practice. The barbershoppers plan guest nights to introduce their music to interested men.

Guests are welcome to sit in on practice from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 11 and 18 at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1611 Williams Drive. All men, regardless of age, are invited.

"The reason we're doing this at this time is we've finished our church singouts and we're now starting to work on music for next spring's show, so this is the right time for anybody to join," said Drew Sieben, a baritone in the chorus.

Harmony Brigade members practice year-round at the the church. The chorus is open to all men and boys.

Barbershop music is a cappella in four-part harmony. Each of the four parts has its own role: generally, the lead sings melody, the tenor harmonizes above the melody, bass sings the lowest harmonizing notes, and the baritone completes the chord, usually below the lead but wherever the need takes him.

"Baritone is the hardest part," said Ted Bodensteiner, who sings lead. "The baritones who sing it just love it. It can go above the lead, below the lead - it's what makes the chord."

Bodensteiner knows the intricacies of singing baritone because he tried that when he first joined Harmony Brigade.

"In barbershop, the definition of baritone is not the same as in choral," he said. "I have been a lead ever since."

Sieben is a baritone with Harmony Brigade.

"It's easier to learn my part on a song you've never heard than one you know," he said. "You have to train yourself to stay off the melody."

According to the Barbershop Harmony Society, "Barbershop music features songs with understandable lyrics and easily singable melodies, whose tones clearly define a tonal center and imply major and minor chords."

There's more to that definition, but for people not familiar with barbershop, the description is almost scary. Singing it, however, is more fun than scary.

That's what Sieben and Bodensteiner want potential barbershop singers to understand.

The technique of singing barbershop is practiced and practiced again, with help from men singing like parts. It may be unfamiliar, but it isn't scary, the men agree. Singing barbershop is addictive.

"It gets into you," Sieben said.

"You get hooked," Bodensteiner added.

"One of the things that happens at practices is called quarteting," Sieben said. "That's one of the ways you develop your ability."

Harmony Brigade members have developed quartets that go around the area singing. Two Squared members are Clair Nerem, Badger, tenor; Chuck Nerem, Thor, baritone; Del Brandt, Humboldt, lead; and Jack Weber, Webster City, bass. Shades of Gray members are Daryl Larson, Fort Dodge, tenor; Terry Parker, Fort Dodge, lead; Steve Hulsebus, Fort Dodge, baritone; and Tim Valley, Jewell, bass.

Sieben and Bodensteiner easily fall into discussion about all things barbershop. Their enthusiasm is contagious.

"Our whole purpose is to get the word out we're having a couple of guest nights," Sieben said.

"If they come, they'll like it," Bodensteiner said. "We can sing anything."

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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