Here are some answers to frequently asked questions. If you have a question that is not answered here, please get in touch with the organizers. There are email addresses here for your convenience (requires site password).
Songs and voice parts I'm a chorus singer, and just started singing in my first quartet, and I'm really enjoying it. Can I come to the Brigade? If you're only getting started, the Harmony Brigade is probably not the place for you. As a general rule, Harmony Brigades are targeted at singers with strong quartet experience. This is because when you get thrown together with three other people with whom you've never sung, it is much harder to get the song going and ring all the chords than if you're in a chorus or even a quartet with people you're familiar with. A Harmony Brigade is fun for everyone if everyone knows what they're doing in a quartet. For beginning quartet singers, there are better opportunities to take your first steps, such as Harmony University; and then we'll welcome you to the Brigade in a couple of years!
I understand this is a mixed brigade. Will we be singing male or female arrangements? MHBNE uses MALE arrangements. This has the benefit of using arrangements selected and modified by the overall Brigade organization. By experience, we know that women can almost always handle the tenor part, and women with a relatively low range have sung lead and bari successfully. We have endeavored to select arrangements that have few exceptionally low bari and lead notes, but there may be a few notes that are challenging (and some of the arrangements have high notes that are challenging for the men). Occasionally we raise the pitch of the arrangement by a half-tone, and each random quartet is free to try any song in any pitch they like!
I'm not sure what part I can sing on a male arrangement. What are the ranges of the songs? We use men's arrangements, sometimes raised in pitch slightly, and selected to avoid the extremes of the men's range. Here are the typical ranges of the songs, in scientific notation: Tenor: A3 to C5 Lead: E3 to G4 (some arrangements drop down to D3 or E3 occasionally or go up to Ab4 or A4) Baritone: D3 to F4 (some arrangements drop to C3 occasionally or go up to G4 or Ab4) Bass: Eb2 to B3
"Typical range" means that there are occasional notes that are slightly outside of these ranges. These notes are often sung in unison with other parts on that chord, or are single outliers. If you are still unsure about what parts you could sing, feel free to contact us, and we can put you in touch with women who have participated in past Extreme Quartet events. Do note that the range alone does not give you the full picture of how comfortable the song is to sing for you. For instance, the baritone parts may spend more time at the lower end of the range than the lead parts, although the ranges are similar. Female baritones might consider learning the male tenor part unless they have a low range.
I am a female bass, how can I participate? If you are a female bass, you will need to choose another part to sing. We suggest you look at the lead or bari parts of the songs. Some female basses have really enjoyed singing lead, because it allows them to express themselves musically perhaps more than they could singing bass!
What songs will be sung at the next Brigade rally? It is the policy of the Association of Extreme Quartetting Harmony Brigades NOT to make the song lists public. This question has been debated since the start of the Harmony Brigades (over 25 years ago), and it remains one of the "extreme" elements of what we do that you will only learn of the song selection once you have registered. The international music committee works in secret nearly two years in advance, and tries to select an excellent mix of songs, including a good number of arrangements in the 'as sung by' version of recent top quartets. Part of the fun and joy is the anticipation of what those songs will be at each brigade.
I am in complete disagreement and I MUST know the songs before I decide whether to participate The organizers can, at their discretion, disclose the song list to individuals at registration time, providing you agree not to share the information in any public forum. Contact us!
Preparedness You keep going on and on about preparedness. Is it really such a big deal if I don't know a couple of notes? Yes, it's a really big deal. Coming unprepared is not an option. The core point of a Harmony Brigade is that you can grab any three other people and sing a song with them, and that singing with them will be fun. If you have to think about your notes and words when you're practicing with a TimTrack, your confusion will be much worse when you're singing with three other living people. These three people will have worked hard to have all their words, music, and interpretation down 100%. So please do your part to make sure they have fun singing with you. So, you practice until you get it right, then you continue to practice until you CAN'T GET IT WRONG!
What if I am not sure I can learn all the songs? You will have about four months to learn the songs, some of which you may already know. If you can get a few other people together, you can practice them at a run-through before coming to the Brigade. You may also contact the organizational team for advice. Please apply only if you are confident that you can come fully prepared.
Will there be learning tracks? Yes! There will be high quality learning tracks by Tim Waurick or other professional singers for each song.
When will I get the songs and teach tracks? We will distribute the teach tracks and sheet music to paid up subscribers as soon as we have copyright approval. This should give you four months or more to learn the songs.
Applications and payment I read that I can't just sign up, but have to apply. What does that mean? There are a number of reasons why the organizing team has to make a selection from the people who apply to participate in the Brigade. One is that we want to ensure that everyone who comes is a reasonably experienced quartet singer, for reasons explained above. A second reason is that we need roughly equal numbers of tenors, leads, baris, and basses at the event (you want to spend your time singing, not hunting for leads), and we probably want to balance things out a bit. The organizing team will review all applications as they are received, and if you have not previously sung in a Brigade, we will check your musical references and we may contact you for further information. We will let you know as soon as possible if you can participate.
Okay, I'm sold! Now what does it cost to participate? See the Apply page for this year's fee. The standard fee for the Rally includes:
Accommodation in a twin-bedded room for two nights (you will be assigned a roommate unless you have specified one at registration). A single room or sharing a room with a non-singing guest are available as options at an extra cost.
Scores and learning tracks for the songs (our copyright approval is for this event only. You must seek your own approval if you want to use the music outside of the Brigade Rally).
Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday
Dinner on Friday and Saturday
Use of the hotel conference facilities to which we are assigned
You will have options of a single room supplement, extra nights, a donation to our scholarship fund. After filling in the application form application is submitted, you need to send a down payment as indicated on the Apply page. Once your payment in received (and your references checked, if you are a first-time participant, your registration can be confirmed. Once this happens, a partial refund is possible if you cancel your registration on or before a limit date (see registration page). If your application is not accepted for any reason, your entire down payment will be returned. Our cancelation policy and Terms and Conditions apply. If you have opted for a shared room with a specific person, we will contact you to obtain the particulars. If you want to bring a non-participating partner/guest, you can arrange this when we contact you for room requirements.
Can I bring family members to the Brigade? Yes! The hotel will extend our group rate to extra persons and extra nights that you can book. Generally the free quartetting and rehearsal times are not at all of interest to non-singing visitors, but the quartet competition and particularly the Saturday night show are open to the public (be sure to buy tickets in advance).
Time is moving on, I've had work pressure/illness/family problems and I'm noticing that I won't be able to learn all the music in time. What can I do? First, consider to make a push and finish learning your music anyway. Just think of all the fun you'll be missing out on! :) But if you're sure that you won't be able to come 100% prepared, it is much better to withdraw than to come unprepared. Try to reserve more time and prepare for the following rally.
I live near the venue / have a friend nearby I can stay with / really like youth hostels. Is there a way I could not pay for the hotel room? The cost of the brigade includes hotel, meals, and music. The Brigade is a community of barbershoppers getting together to do a lot of singing. If you were not staying in the same hotel as everyone else, chances are that you're coming late on Saturday morning or you're leaving early on Saturday night. It is important to us to keep the community together as much as possible. That's why it is required that everyone to stay in the hotel on the site, even if you have other options. Also, we have guaranteed a minimum number of rooms to the hotel in order to get the use of the full facilities, so we need to have everyone staying at the hotel.
Further questions Will there be coaching? No, there will be no coaching, no sectional practice (apart from run-throughs you have organised yourselves), and no time for last minute learning! There will be nothing that distracts from quartetting with as many people as you can. :-) That said, there is a lot to be learned from quartetting with really good singers, so the Brigade is definitely a learning opportunity! You will be able to ask others for advice on an informal basis.
Once I have received my music, can I sing these songs with my quartet? No, not without getting your own copyright license and tracks. The Brigade has obtained licenses that cover use of this music only at this brigade. Copying and distributing to others is illegal.
But what if all four members of my quartet attend the brigade? Same answer. The quartet will need to obtain its own copyright clearance for their own copies of the scores to any songs they wish to use outside of the Brigade rally.
I disagree with some of the decisions you've made in organizing this event , and I have suggestions for making the next event even better. There will be a brigade meeting where any current problems can be raised. There will be a questionnaire at the end where we request your feedback and suggestions for future events. If anything else is urgent, feel free to contact the organizers (you can use our contact page, or email one of us directly if you have the email addresses).