SIX
They Still Sing of Love

BARBER-SHOP BALLADRY

THe man who has not harmonized, or tried to, whether a whiskey tenor or a growling bass, or the full-throated leading on the air, is fit for gout, dyspepsia, or a jail.

That's not exactly the way Shakespeare put it, but you get the idea. "That barber-shop chord" has created more good-will and cemented more friendships than all the signed agreements in the world. Misunderstandings have been dispelled and rancors eliminated in advance by that mystic union of musical parts which Browning idealized poetically as "not a fourth tone, but a star."

It was assumed at one time that men would sing freely only when their natural self-consciousness had been removed by artificial stimulants. Today, when such stimulation is theoretically impossible, mankind still sings "close

-76-

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