A few years back, I worked as a newspaper columnist for the Daily Sun-News which is based in the heart of a retirement community in Sun City, Arizona. In that role, I had many opportunities to write about people and their passions. I would often set up interviews in a small cafe called the Point of View.
One time, I met with several members of a forty-man barbershop chorus. The music director described the effect that the group’s singing had on him. “When you have a bunch of guys who can really sing barbershop,” he said, “it raises the goose bumps on your arms.”
He then began talking about a phenomenon known as breaking a chord. “If you have four guys that can match up their vowel sounds and sing in tune, you can create a fifth part just by the overtone that’s heard. Sometimes that sound is louder than any of the individual voices.”
The gentleman sitting across from him nodded his head knowingly. “It’s the time when God visits the room,” he said. “That’s the glory of barbershopping—when the chords ring and you get that vibration.”
Another fellow added his take on the breaking of a chord. “When you break a low tone, you think you’re experiencing an earthquake,” he said. “If you break low and you’re standing on risers, you can feel the vibrations.”
I asked them if they could demonstrate this phenomenon with a song, and when they began an impromptu rendition of “Down Our Way,” I felt the goose bumps. So did all the diners sitting nearby as the small barbershop quartet began harmonizing.
Perhaps God is that vibration or overtone we need to listen for a little more closely.