Baritone

Baritone: (n) an adult male singing voice between tenor and bass.Dictionary B

In my teen years, I found myself caught up in the world of Southern Gospel music. This was brought about because the church I attended was feverishly interested in the medium.

Southern Gospel music is a collision of real gospel music, barbershop quartets, revivalism and a bit of show business (without admitting that you’re performing).

The quartet is usually male and is divided into four singing parts:

  • Bass: a voice that covers the deep root note of each chord
  • Lead: that’s the melody boy
  • High tenor: which generally speaking is an alto part, taken up an octave
  • And baritone. Nobody ever wanted to be baritone.

The baritone part was always considered a symbol of weakness. It was the part for those men who were not manly enough to perform very low notes, nor strong enough to carry the song’s melody, or high enough to dazzle the audience with tones in the clouds.

It was a standard joke. Whenever the baritone member of the group was introduced, the emcee would say, “Barely a tone passes from his lips.”

But here’s the interesting thing: most male speakers or singers are baritones. So as always, we take the common and we make it mediocre, causing the majority of the folks around us to feel inadequate, as we worship the handful who do the extremes and make the news.

Until we learn to take the people in our lives who are emotional, spiritual, mental and physical baritones and teach them to shine out the very best they can with what they’ve got, we will have a world of over-promoted tenors and basses … and jealous “barely-a-tones.”

 

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