Submitted by George Badland on Thu, 19/10/2017

One of the elements of our singing that most upsets Rod, is the almost constant reminder he has to give NOT TO SCOOP.

If you Google the subject, you will find lots of plaudits being handed out to singers who do scoop, but you will find that they are all solo singers and not harmony singers like us.

Barbershop singing is about producing ringing chords that are precisely on the intended beat, but once you introduce a scoop into the equation, both ‘timing’ and ‘ringing’ go out of the window. Hence the frustration.

You may think that singing in a legato fashion, i.e making a smooth transition between notes without any breaks or pauses, must involve scooping. Well, in a sense it does, but the transition is done so rapidly that it is not detrimental to what we are trying to do and is not offensive to the ear. Scooping is where the initial pitch that is initiated, is under the target pitch. The target pitch is then only eventually reached after sliding through a whole range of differing pitches. Such action no only prevents the opportunity to ‘ring’ chords, it also means that you will be behind the intended beat.

So how do we stop scooping? Well the best advice I can find to eliminate scooping is as follows.

1 Recognise the fact that you MUST firstly ‘hear’ the correct pitch in your head BEFORE you start to initiate the pitch. Without doing that, it is impossible to pitch the correct note. When singing you’re constantly doing it, probably without realising it. However, if you do not make a conscious effort to ‘hear’ the correct pitch, either through laziness or a lack of concentration, you are likely to be under it in your mind’s ear, and you can only sing the pitch that you have in your mind.

2 You must ACTIVELY LISTEN, to the pitch, which include the vital element of HEARING the pitch. Each rehearsal we see evidence of guys apparently LISTENING but clearly NOT HEARING.

3 Practicing pitching and recording the result will help you identify and correct such issues. You can only correct things you are aware need correcting.

4 Practice putting an accurately pitched singable consonant before the target vowel sound before you move on to the target vowel sound.

5 Continue practicing (and recording) but now without the singable consonant.

Eventually you will be scoop free, apart from the odd occasion when you don’t concentrate.

So, remember that if the scoop is initiated on the beat, then by the time you have scooped up to the correct pitch you must be behind the beat. Also, that by scooping through a range of pitches, it is impossible for other voices to lock and ring with you.

Finally if none of this works for you, have a think about trying a different hobby. ????

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