Skip to main content
×
×
Home

White Masculinity in Barbershop Quartet Singing

Abstract
Abstract

This article explores the cultural work of white masculinity in barbershop quartet singing in two historical contexts: the barbershop revival of the 1920s and 1930s and barbershop's struggle for survival in twenty-first century Philadelphia. It first details how revivalists attempted to re-create Victorian white masculinity by codifying and promoting a barbershop musical style and repertory that fostered closeness between men. By performing their musical style in public, masculine spaces, and admitting only white men to their gatherings, the organizers of the Barbershop Harmony Society opposed a number of contemporary social changes in the United States, including shifting gender roles, a rise in immigration, the economic instability of the Great Depression, and New Deal liberalism. The article then documents how and why barbershoppers in Philadelphia at the turn of the twenty-first century still perform this “close,” neo-Victorian mode of white masculinity. In this new context, barbershop whiteness enabled a group of white men to claim belonging in their racially divided city despite years of migration and displacement caused by deindustrialization and urban decay. In both historical moments, barbershoppers used whiteness to challenge social and economic change and to assert the continued relevance of their musical style.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Abbott Lynn. “‘Play that Barbershop Chord’: A Case for the African American Origin of Barbershop Harmony.American Music 10/3 (Fall 1992): 289325.
Adams Caroline et al. 1991. Philadelphia: Neighborhoods, Division, and Conflict in a Postindustrial City. Philadelphia: Temple University Press
Averill Gage. 2003. Four Parts, No Waiting: A Social History of American Barbershop Harmony. New York: Oxford University Press
Averill Gage. 1999Bell Tones and Ringing Chords: Sense and Sensation in Barbershop Harmony.” World of Music 41/1: 3751.
Bérubé Allan. 1990 Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two. New York: Free Press.
Cash Owen C. 2002. The Best of O. C. Cash: A Collection of Thoughts. Kenosha, Wis.: SPEBSQSA
Cateforis Theo. “Performing the Avant-Garde Groove: Devo and the Whiteness of the New Wave.” American Music 22/4 (Winter 2004): 564–88.
Chauncey George. 1994. Gay New York. New York: Basic Books
Cohan Steven. 1993‘Feminizing’ the Song-And-Dance-Man: Fred Astaire and the Spectacle of Masculinity in the Hollywood Musical.” In Screening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in Hollywood Cinema, ed. Cohan Steven and Hark Ina Rae, 4669. New York: Routledge.
Cohan Steven. 1997. Masked Men: Masculinity and the Movies in the Fifties. Bloomington: Indiana University Press
Connell R. W. 1995. Masculinities. Berkeley: University of California Press
Dubbert Joe L. 1979. A Man's Place: Masculinity in Transition. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall
Dyer Richard. “White.” Screen 29/4 (Autumn 1988): 4465.
Dyer Richard. 1997. White. New York: Routledge
Epstein Dena. “A White Origin for the Black Spiritual? An Invalid Theory and How It Grew.” American Music 1/2 (Summer 1983): 5359.
Erenberg Lewis. 1981. Steppin' Out: New York Nightlife and the Transformation of American Culture, 1890–1930. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Feldenstein Ruth. 2000. Motherhood in Black and White: Race and Sex in American Liberalism, 1930–1965. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press
Frankenberg Ruth. 1993. White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
Garnett Liz. 2005. The British Barbershopper: A Study in Socio-Musical Values. Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Press
Gaunt Kyra. Review of Music and the Racial Imagination, ed. Radano Ronald and Bohlman Philip. Ethnomusicology 48/1 (Winter 2004): 127–29.
Goode Judith, and Schneider Jo Anne. 1994. Reshaping Ethnic and Racial Relations in Philadelphia: Immigrants in a Divided City. Philadelphia: Temple University Press
Gorn Elliott J. 1986. The Manly Art: Bare-Knuckle Prize Fighting in America. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press
Graling Scipio, Yeh Ray, Bermudez Carlos, Krizek John, Williams Kendall, and Emery Tim. “A More Diverse Society.” Harmonizer 64/3 (May–June 2004): 1622.
Green Harvey. 1986. Fit For America: Health, Fitness, Sport, and American Society. New York: Pantheon Books
Hale Grace Elizabeth. 1998. Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890–1940. New York: Vintage Books
Hantover Jeffrey P. 1980The Boy Scouts and the Validation of Masculinity.” In The American Man, ed. Pleck Elizabeth H. and Pleck Joseph H., 285302. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall
Hartigan John Jr. 2001‘White Devils’ Talk Back: What Antiracists Can Learn from Whites in Detroit.” In The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness, ed. Rasmussen Birgit BranderKlinenberg EricNexica Irene J., and Wray Matt, 138–61. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press
Higham John. 1988. Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860–1925. 2nd ed.New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press
Holm-Hudson Kevin. “‘Come Sail Away’ and the Commodification of ‘Prog Lite.’American Music 23/3 (Fall 2005): 377–94.
Jacobson Matthew Frye. 1998. Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press
Kaplan Max, ed. 1993. Barbershopping: Musical and Social Harmony. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University, Associated University Presses
Lears Jackson. 1981. No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880–1920. New York: Pantheon Books
Martin Claude Trimble 1932. “Deac.” A Handbook for Adeline Addicts: A Starter for Cold Voices and a Survey of American Balladry. Cleveland: Schonberg Press
Melnick Jeffrey. 1997. “‘Story Untold’: The Black Men and White Sounds of Doo-Wop.” In Whiteness: A Critical Reader, ed. Hill Mike, 134–50. New York: New York University Press
Mettler Suzanne. 1998. Dividing Citizens: Gender and Federalism in New Deal Public Policy. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press
Metzger Charlie. “Are You Politically Correct?Harmonizer 63/4 (July–August 2003): 2023.
Mook Richard. 2004. “The Sounds of Liberty: Nostalgia, Masculinity, and Whiteness in Philadelphia Barbershop, 1900–2003.” Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania
Morrison Toni. 1992. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press
Mrozek Donald J. 1989. “Sport in American Life: From National Health to Personal Fulfillment.” In Fitness in American Culture: Images of Health, Sport, and the Body, 1930–1940, ed. Glover Kathryn, 1846. Rochester, N.Y.: Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum
Mulvey Laura. 1989. Visual and Other Pleasures. Bloomington: Indiana University Press
Passaro Joanne. 1997. “‘You Can't Take the Subway to the Field!’: ‘Village’ Epistemologies in the Global Village.” In Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science, ed. Gupta Akhil and Ferguson James, 147162. Berkeley: University of California Press
Pfeil Fred. 1995. White Guys: Studies in Postmodern Domination and Difference. New York: Verso
Radano Ronald. 2003. Lying Up a Nation: Race and Black Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Rehding Alexander. “The Quest for the Origins of Music in Germany Circa 1900.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 53/2 (Summer 2000): 345–85.
Rischar Richard. 2000. “One Sweet Day: Vocal Style in African American Popular Ballads, 1991–1995.” Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Roediger David. 1991. The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class. New York: Verso
Rotundo Anthony. 1993. American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era. New York: Basic Books
Savran David. 1998. Taking It Like a Man: White Masculinity, Masochism, and Contemporary American Culture. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press
Sitkoff Harvard. 1978. A New Deal for Blacks: The Emergence of Civil Rights as a National Issue. Vol. 1, The Depression Decade. New York: Oxford University Press
Skocpol Theda. 1992. Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press
Spaeth Sigmund. 1959. Fifty Years With Music. New York: Fleet Publishing
Spaeth Sigmund. 1913. “Milton's Knowledge of Music: Its Sources and Its Significance in His Works.” Ph.D. diss., Princeton University
Spaeth Sigmund. 1925. Barber Shop Ballads: A Book of Close Harmony. New York: Simon and Schuster
Spaeth Sigmund. 1940. Barber Shop Ballads and How to Sing Them. New York: Prentice-Hall
Toll Jean Barth, and Gillam Mildred S.. 1995. Invisible Philadelphia: Community Through Voluntary Organizations. Philadelphia: Atwater Kent Museum
Tucker Sherrie. 2002. “When Subjects Don't Come Out.” In Queer Episodes in Music and Identity, ed. Fuller Sophie and Whitesell Lloyd, 293310. Urbana: University of Illinois Press
Walser Robert. 1993. Running with the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England
Ware Vron, and Back Les. 2003. Out of Whiteness: Color, Politics, and Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Warner Sam Bass. 1968. The Private City: Philadelphia in Three Periods of Its Growth. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press
Whitesell Lloyd. “White Noise: Race and Erasure in the Cultural Avant-Garde.” American Music 19/2 (Summer 2001): 168–89.
Wong Deborah. 2000. “The Asian American Body in Performance.” In Music and the Racial Imagination, ed. Radano Ronald and Bohlman Philip, 5794. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Society for American Music
  • ISSN: 1752-1963
  • EISSN: 1752-1971
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-society-for-american-music
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 16
Total number of PDF views: 82 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 589 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 16th December 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.