This is not an attempt to rank the skills of the arrangers of barbershop music. It is simply an attempt to evaluate which ones, in my subjective opinion, have the best websites. (It's also an opportunity to have a comprehensive list of links to arrangers' websites in one place.)
This ranking evaluates websites by three criteria. First, there is information. How much is provided. This includes things like arranger bio, how to order, descriptions of songs, categories of songs, links to performers, references to learning tracks, degree of difficulty, and other such information.
The second criterion is amenities. These are things that make it easier for the user. They would include sample tracks of the music, sample pages from the score, and online ordering.
The third criterion is website design. Is the text legible and attractive? Is there a nice background color or image? Are the title tags informative, so that people can bookmark the page? Are the graphics attractive? Is there a good navigation system? Does it work with different screen resolutions? Does it use CSS for accessibility?
It may be that there are arrangers' sites that have not been included in this project. If so, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. It's also entirely possible that you will disagree with my ordering of the sites. Please feel free to contact me to make a case for a different ordering. Due to the dynamic nature of the web, changes may have been made to the sites since I saw them (about March 1). The plan is to do a similar ranking next year about this time, and many sites may have changed by that time.
Please feel free to pass a link to this site to anyone who may be interested. Also, be sure to visit the SemiQuaver Home Page where we focus on a different barbershop arranger every couple of weeks and tell about 3 or 4 of his/her latest arrangements and what kind of group would be able to sing them. Maybe you'll find your group's next signature song here.
Harry Buerer, Portland, Oregon
#1 - Nancy Bergman
Information: Nancy has over 500 arrangements on her site. You can print out a .pdf listing of the arrangement either in alphabetical order or by category. You can also search on a song name to find it. There is a good bio and a couple of nice photos of Nancy. There is also a detailed explanation about how to order and a lengthy FAQ page. The songs themselves are listed and viewed in 12 different categories. Within each category a certain number (which you can specify) of songs are shown at a time. Each title is a clickable link which will take you to a page for that specific song. Nancy has 42 songs for men and 10 8-part songs for men and women.
Amenities: Most songs offer a chance to view a .pdf file of the printed score. Most songs also have a 4-part sample clip by a neutral intrument. In addition to this there is online ordering through a shopping cart system. And once a song is purchased, you can download it directly from the website.
Website Design: This is an attractive site, with an emphasis on different shades of aqua. The graphic header emphasizes the color and links, headings, and outlines reinforce it. There is a menu across the top and a duplicate one down the left side. There is also a list of the categories of songs down the left side. Particulary noteworthy are categories of New songs and EZ songs. Title and description tags are present, although the title tags aren't very helpful. If you bookmark the site, be sure to change "Home" to something like "Nancy B Music".
Although there might be other sites that are more helpful in specific features, like real-voice demos and title tags, Nancy's site has the most of everything, and to scale it to 500+ songs is a real accomplishment. Congratulations to Nancy for being this year's choice for #1 arranger's website.
#2 - Marsha Zwicker
Information: Marsha's site has a lot of things to like. There is a nice photo and brief bio on the homepage. She has an excellent discussion of picking the right arrangement for your group. There is information about ordering arrangements, and she includes email contact info. She has a list of which songs have learning tracks available (almost half), and a link to those. The songs themselves are categorized into Uptunes, Ballads, and four different kinds of Show songs, plus songs voiced for young women. Each song listing contains a brief description and a difficulty level.
Amenities: Each song features a graphic of one page of the score. These are not .pdf files but .jpg graphic files. They're a little less easy to read, but they accomplish the same thing. The vast majority of the songs have a real-voice sample clip.
Website Design: This is a strong point of this site. The content is nicely centered (although the .jpg scores are not). There is an attractive header and a consistent left-side menu. Title tags are good, although description tags are missing. Good use is made of CSS. Clickable links are in red and non-clickable headers and emphasized words are in blue.
#3 - Larry Triplett
Information: Larry's site has a nice bio of the arranger and several photos of him as a chorus director, as well as a head photo. There is good information about obtaining his arrangements and complete contact information for him. A nice touch is the multi-track video on the homepage of one of his songs being sung. The songs themselves are in two lists, Christmas songs, and Popular songs (which includes everything else). Each song is categorized as Contest or not, with a brief but helpful description.
Amenities: This is where this site shines. Each song offers a sample page or two in .pdf format. And most of the songs offer a demo track of real voices. The typical track allows you to hear the entire song, not just a short clip, and to follow along on much of the score while doing it.
Website Design: The site uses a light gray background with a graphic of a musical score on it that makes it slightly harder to read the brown text. The links are blue and pink. The content scales nicely to different screen sizes and the title and description tags are good. The margins are almost non-existent. There are consistent menus, top and bottom, on each page.
If you want to hear a song before purchasing it, this is certainly the place to come.
#4 - Lynnell Diamond
Information: Lynnell's site is focused not only on her arranging but also on coaching groups and teaching classes, and she has separate pages for each of those. She has a list of choruses and quartets that she has coached and classes that she has taught. She has a photo and bio on the home page and a list of her roles in Sweet Adelines, Int'l. For 9 songs that are published by SAI, she has links to the ordering page. She also has links to six creators of learning tracks, and mentions in her song descriptions if tracks are available. The song descriptions list author, style and difficulty. The competition and non-competition songs can be viewed separately. She also has a page where she lists groups that she has arranged on commission for.
Amenities: Virtually all of Lynnell's songs provide a sample. pdf of a page or two of the score. A few of the songs have real-voice samples from the learning tracks. There is an online order form and she accepts payment by PayPal.
Website Design: The site itself is very attractive and well-done. There is a nice header graphic, and the content is centered on the page. The title tags are good, and there is a description tag, but only on the home page. There are colorful photos on each page, adding to the appeal. There is a menu bar across the top in a contrasting color. On each page she has an interesting left sidebar with a photo or some interesting information in it.
#5 - Anna Maria Parker
Information: Anna Maria Parker's site includes a photo and a brief bio. Her 43 arrangements can be listed all together or in groups of Uptunes, Ballads, Seasonal, etc. Song descriptions are limited to the authors of the song. There is information about the learning tracks, which are by the arranger, and a contact form.
Amenities: Clicking on the title of a song will take you to a separate page for that song, from which you can view a sample .pdf of the score, and, in many cases, hear a real-voice sample. You can purchase the 4-part audio of the entire song for $1, and if you purchase an arrangement, you can get a $10 discount on the learning tracks ($15 to start with). She also offers on-line ordering through PayPal.
Website Design: There is a light-red graphic header and a consistent left-side menu. There is a generic title tag on all pages which does not identify the arranger, and description tags are not yet present. The content is nicely centered and the site uses both CSS and tables for layout. The light-blue background is interesting and there is a starburst pattern on each page.
#6 - Jon Nicholas
Information: Jon's website includes a photo and bio, which includes links to his choruses and other groups. He includes information about obtaining his songs, as well as email and phone contacts. He also includes a page of original tags with part tracks. Hi 100+ songs can be listed together or by category (Christmas, Religious, Cowboy). Each song is rated by style, difficulty, contestability, and date arranged. He offers a chance to get on a mailing list for notice of new arrangements.
Amenities: Jon does his own voice tracks and there are real-voice samples or demos of the vast majority of his songs. There are also .pdf samples of some. He also offers many of his religious numbers as free downloads.
Website Design: The site has a black background with off-white (sometimes blue, sometimes yellow) text. The title tags are good, but there are no description or other metatags. The home page is offset to the left on my screen, with AdSense ads at the top and a webring link at the bottom. There is a menu down the left side, which appears vertically on the bottom of most pages.
#7 - Joey Minshall
Information: Joey Minshall has all of her arrangements available in a .pdf file. She has full instructions for ordering, and links to several makers of learning tracks. She also includes a page featuring her newest arrangements. The bulk of her 100+ arrangements are listed on two pages, one for songs under contract with Sweet Adelines, Int'l and only available to members, and one available to anybody. Brief descriptions and sometimes links to performing groups accompany the song titles. There is a photo and a very brief bio of the arranger. There are also links to her FaceBook page and a page of favorite links.
Amenities: The majority of Joey's songs have real-voice sample tracks from groups that have recorded them. Most of these groups have links to them.
Website Design: The tone of the site is set with a very attractive graphic header. Text is in blue with a light blue background. There is a consistent menu at the top of each page as well as a text menu at the bottom. Title and description tags are good. The page content is nicely centered on the page.
#8 - Larry Wright
Information: Larry Wright has a site that promotes not only barbershop arrangements but also SATB sacred arrangements, instrumental accompaniment tracks, and an extensive collection of learning tracks. There is a photo of the arranger, and an extensive resume on another page. There is a list of clients, top quartets and choruses that have used his arrangements and learning tracks, and a helpful FAQ file. Larry has about 260 arrangements in both men's and women's voicings. The arrangement lists can be viewed as either an alphabetical list of all men's (or women's) arrangements, or in categories such as "Contestable", or "Holiday". Each song has quite a lengthy description. There is also a printable product list of almost 2000 products.
Amenities: There is on-line ordering for all arrangements and learning tracks. Of course Larry has learning tracks available for many of his arrangements. There is a sample page of sheet music for one song, and there are audio demos of selected songs using real-voice recordings of entire songs, although they fade in and out to prevent unauthorized use.
#9 - Jeremey Johnson
Information: Jeremey Johnson's site is developed under the brand of "High Note Music Industries". Jeremey's name occurs only on the "About" page and there is no bio or photo. The site promotes much more than just barbershop music. There is also music for choral groups, chamber groups, marching band, and instrumental solos, among others. There is also the promise of future online music education courses. The 18 barbershop arrangements (3 of which are free) are listed in alphabetical order with degree of difficulty and a one-word description of style. There is a graphic link for those (8) that have learning tracks provided by Sunshine Tracks.
Amenities: There is online ordering for all products. Each of the songs has learning tracks, easily controlled from the page. The ones with tracks available from Sunshine Tracks have real-voice demos; the others have neutral instruments. Sample .pdf files of the sheet music are available by clicking on the song title.
Website Design: The site appearance is very positive, with a nice graphic header and attractive graphics on every page. There is a consistent top menu and good title and description tags. The site scales nicely to the screen resolution.
#10 - Joe Johnson
Information: Joe's site contains a full description of how to order. There is also a bio and photo of Joe and his wife. Another page lists "Who's Singing What" and it's very informative. There is a lengthy page of endorsements for Joe's arrangements by some very respected arrangers and singers. Joe has about 75 arrangements, listed (in no discernible order) on two pages separating Contest Music from Show Music. The song descriptions are quite helpful.
Amenities: Many of Joe's songs, particularly gospel tunes, are free to the user. Scores and neutral-instrument learning tracks are linked for all of these. All of Joe's songs have neutral-instrument demos linked from the site, typically of the entire song. Mention is made of real-voice learning tracks that are available for particular songs.
Website Design: The site uses an attractive background and a consistent type face. There is a splash page that makes you click an extra time to get to the site. All pages within the site display the same url, so it's impossible to bookmark a specific page. The title tag is also the same for all pages, but it does identify the arranger. There is a consistent text menu at the top. Margins are very narrow, but the site is scalable over different screen resolutions. Content is entirely text, except for the one photo and a table on the Who's-Singing-What page.
#11 - Brent Graham
Information: Brent's new site contains quite a bit of information, and it's obvious that more will be added over time. There is a full bio and several pictures, including current and past quartets. There is also a detailed description of barbershop music. Also on the site is a page of links, mostly to barbershop groups, and a page called "Barbershop News". There is one list of his 140 arrangements on the site, in alphabetical order, with brief descriptions.
Amenities: Brent offers online ordering with a shopping cart. He intends to offer samples of his charts, but that section was not yet functional at press time. He offers real-voice samples of four of his songs.
Website Design: Brent's new site is hosted by ConnectedSound, which previously specialized in sites for Sweet Adelines groups. It's a very attractive layout and contains good title and description tags, although the description is the same for each page. There is a consistent top menu (beneath the attractive header) with drop-down sub-menus.
In time this could be an outstanding site, as more parts are added. Brent's music is always worth singing.
#12 - David Harrington
Information: David has a list of over 50 arrangements which can be broken down into half-a-dozen categories, as well as contestable or not. You can print out the entire list as a .pdf. There is also an explanation of how to purchase arrangements, by check or PayPal (with extra fee). There is a chance to join the mailing list to receive periodic updates. There is a page promoting the music of zero8, an outstanding Swedish youth chorus which is directed by David's brother, Doug. There is neither bio nor photo, but there is a contact form.
Amenities: A strength of this site is its song demos, which are available on almost all songs and are typically (though not always) real voices. Also engaging are the graphics of the groups that recorded the songs, as well as links to them.
Website Design: Don't access this site if you're in an office, library, or anywhere you want silence, as an audio will automatically start playing when you open the home page. There are title tags on all pages, although they are generic and don't identify it as the Harrington site. If you bookmark it, be sure to write in something other than "home". Inexplicably, the title for the arrangements page is "A D E F G H I J L M N O P S T W Y". There are no description metatags. The navigation is consistent at the top of each page. The bi-color logo for studioDH is clever.
#13 - Jean Crockett Kane
Information: Jean's site includes a bio and nice photo of the arranger. The 60+ songs can be seen in one large list, or in lists according to category: Ballads, Uptunes, and the rest. There is also information about ordering an arrangement. Complete contact information is given. Each song has a brief description, a difficulty rating, and a comment on its contestability. You can download a list of all her songs in a .pdf file.
Amenities: Jean provides sample sheet music in .pdf format for most of her songs. The bulk of these have audio samples, played on an electric piano. The samples are linked on a separate page from the song lists.
Website Design: The website design is simple but adequate. There is a consistent left-side menu on each page that is made up of text links. The pages all have the same title, but it identifies the arranger. There are no description tags, but the page text works well as a substiture. There is a pleasant green and gold color scheme with black text on an off-white background.
#14 - Carole Prietto
Information: Carole, who is also the webmaster for David Wright's site, has a very nice site herself. She provides a list of women's music, which can be purchased from her, and men's music, which can be purchased from BHS. There are about 35 songs listed. She provides a list of choruses that have sung her songs, and a page of helpful links. There is a good photo but no bio.
Amenities: Carole provides online ordering through PayPal for her women's songs, which is most of her catalog. She provides real-voice clips from about a dozen of her songs. Many of her songs have learning tracks available, to which she links.
Website Design: The site uses a consistent color scheme with a nice match between background, headers, and links. Informative title and description tags on each page and consistent footer navigation show knowledge of design. The home page functions as a menu, but there is navigation on each page. CSS is used, although table-based layout is also used.
#15 - Tom Gentry
Information: Tom Gentry's site includes over 600 songs. You can view them all on a Master List, or view them by category. Tom has about 18 different categories that you can choose. He also has a list of his songs that have learning tracks available, and contact info for these tracks. Tom provides full contact information and instructions for ordering. He also has a (long) page that tells which groups are singing his arrangements. There is a brief bio but no photo. His song descriptions are thoughtful and helpful.
Amenities: There are no samples on the site, but Tom offers to send up to 3 songs for preview using .pdf or Finale files.
Website Design: The site design is simple, but it does the job. The home page is basically a menu, which you return to after viewing another page. There is no navigation on most of the other pages. Title and description tags are adequate, although many of the interior pages have generic titles. Tom uses and interesting font that gives a 3-D effect by using shadows.
Tom's arrangements are everywhere, and any informed barbershopper will want to bookmark this page.
#16 - Dennis Driscoll
Information: Denny Driscoll's site has a good photo and bio. It stands out in the way it makes songs searchable by category. You can search by style (5 categories) as well as by difficulty (4 categories), as well as contestable or not. He provides full contact information, although not much about obtaining arrangements. Presumably you can get most of them from BHS. His brief descriptions of songs are interesting and helpful. The impression is that virtually all the songs are voiced for men.
Amenities: Denny provides .pdf samples of several of his songs, about 20% of the 260 or so songs that he lists.
Website Design: The design of the site is simple but appealing. There are title and description tags, although the title is the same on each page. The graphics and navigation are consistent, and the site uses CSS, so the code is easy to follow.
If you want to search for a song of a particular category or difficulty, this site makes it easy to do so.
#17 - Jay Giallombardo
Information: Jay's site, Gold-Silver-Bronze Medal Music, Inc., contains about 350 arrangements. The home page contains a photo of Jay (but no bio) and links to his online catalog. There is also a link to a list of all his arrangements in .pdf format. The site also includes a lengthy explanation (on a separate page) of the process of legally clearing an arrangement for use. The home page promotes two patriotic show closers and a blurb addressing Illinois educators.
Amenities: Jay's site features on-line ordering, which is still rare among arrangers' sites. There are real-voice samples of the two closers that are being promoted, and neutral-instrument samples of a couple of other songs. With any arrangement you can also purchase a learning track CD using a neutral-instrument. For the most part, samples are not provided online, but preview copies are available for $3 each for up to three arrangements.
Website Design: It's a colorful site; in fact, there are four different colors of links on the home page. The online catalog is many levels deep; it takes four clicks before you get to any songs. Once you click on a song, there is a helpful description of the piece and an "Add to Cart" button. On first arriving at the site, the title says only "Home", so if you bookmark it, be sure to add descriptive text. The other pages have good title tags. I suspect that the site is built for a smaller screen resolution, as everything is on the left half of my screen. There is also the occasional typo where "and" is used instead of "an".
Jay is certainly one of the giants in the barbershop music world, and this site should be known by all serious barbershoppers.
#18 - Carolyn Schmidt
Information: Carolyn Schmidt has a new site that might not be known by everybody. It contains a nice photo and bio of the arranger, including an attractive photo of her chorus. There is complete information about ordering her songs, which are all voiced for women. She also includes a page describing availability of custom arranging. Carolyn lists her 100+ arrangements on a single page in alphabetical order with a brief description, including the year written and the authors. Also included is category (uptune, ballad) and contest suitability. Learning tracks are available for about half of her songs, and these are listed with each song title. Contact info for the track makers is on the Ordering page.
Amenities: There are no samples on the site.
Website Design: The site is very attractive, and is built on a WordPress base. An attractive header graphic gives a good first impression. The title tags are present and informative, but description metatags are missing. There is a consistent menu at the top of each page, but it doesn't include the home page, which is accessed using a set of icons on the side. Carolyn also adds a personal touch by including a page of recipes and a page about her cats.
#19 - David Wright
Information: David Wright's site contains a nice photo of the arranger and a bio that shares his arranging roles with various choruses and quartets, with links to those groups. It also contains a link to his mathematics site at Washington University, where he chairs the math department. He has links on his home page to contact him or his webmaster. There is quite extensive information about how to order an arrangement. Dr. Wright's 200+ arrangements are listed alphabetically on one page with brief descriptions of each, mainly telling the group it was written for or recorded by. (These all include links.) If the arrangement is particularly difficult, that is noted as well, and contest-suitable pieces are marked with an asterisk. Occasionally there are references to learning tracks, but not many. Both men's and women's voicings are well represented.
Amenities: Dr. Wright does not include any samples on his site, but he does offer to send up to three preview copies for a self-addressed envelope.
Website Design: The site uses a black background with an attractive graphic of a music score on the left side. It's easy to read with a consistent Ariel font, and it should be accessible for handicapped users, as it uses CSS for layout. Title tags and description metatags are present on each page and are informative. A text menu is used, which is adequate, as there are only four pages on the site.
David Wright's arrangements are among my favorites, and this is a site that, in my opinion, every barbershop singer should be familiar with.
#20 - Aaron Dale
Information: Aaron has over 150 arrangements listed on his site. He has separate pages for men's and women's arrangements, and a third (brief) page for others that don't fit that mold. He tells the status of each song (exclusive or not, where to obtain it) and if it's intended for contest or show. If there are learning tracks available, he links to the maker of the tracks. He provides his own learning tracks for many of the songs. His song descriptions are brief, usually composed only of the group it was written for. Aaron gives a full bio (but no photo) that is only accessible from his home page. There is good information on how to obtain arrangements and a contact page.
Amenities: Aaron includes a couple of sample pages for a few of his arrangements. There are also real-voice sample tracks of a few of his songs. The impression is that he intends to add more of these over time.
Website Design: This is probably the weakest category for this site. The home page is, shall we say, quite spare. The lack of title tags means that anyone bookmarking the page must write in his own description, or else try to find out what "index" in his bookmark list means. There are also no description tags, so in the event that the page comes up in a search, the page descriptions will be the start of the page content (e.g. "last updated on...").
If you need arrangements that are fun, interesting, and perhaps a bit challenging, this is a great place to find them. Aaron's arrangements are sung by all the top groups.