Contest & Judging Team

The British Association of Barbershop Singers (BABS) is a charitable organisation with music education as its goal. There are over 2400 members in 62 clubs and over 90 registered quartets across the UK. Every year a significant proportion of these clubs and quartets take part in contest culminating in the Annual Convention in the Spring. If you’re going to have a contest, you have to have judges!

The Contest and Judging team is an important resource for BABS. The judges are recognised experts in the main aspects of barbershop, namely singing, music and performance. They undertake bi-annual training at specialist seminars to be able to organise and judge our choruses and quartets in competition.

This site provides current information about the C&J team including a directory of members, contest results, rules and reference information for BABS members and other people with an interest in barbershop.

On this page you will find links to the category descriptions for the three scoring categories. There are also papers which describe other aspects of contest judging.

These descriptions were adopted by the C&J team in June 2014 and will apply to the contest cycle starting in October 2014.

Note that these are taken from the descriptions published by the Barbershop Harmony Society and contain a few references to their judging structure.

Contest Rules V11.6

Music judging form
Performance judging form
Singing judging form

Music Category Description

Judges in this category adjudicate the musical elements in the performance: melody, harmony, range and tessitura, tempo and rhythm and meter, construction and form, and embellishments. They judge the extent to which the musical performance displays the hallmarks of the barbershop style, and the degree to which the musical performance demonstrates an artistic sensitivity to the music’s primary theme.

Click here for the full category description

Performance Category Description

These judges evaluate entertainment within the Barbershop style.  Vocal and visual elements, in the context of the song choice and delivery, are evaluated for their contribution to the overall entertainment effect of the performance.

Click here for the full category description

Singing Category Description

Judges in this category evaluate the degree to which the performer achieves artistic singing in the barbershop style: the production of vibrant, rich, resonant, technically accurate, and highly skilled sound, created both by the individual singer’s use of good vocal techniques, and by the ensemble processes of tuning, balancing, unity of sound and precision. They listen for a sense of precise intonation, a feeling of fullness or expansion of sound, a perception of a high degree of vocal skill, a high level of unity and consistency throughout the performance, and a freedom from apparent effort that allows the full communication of the lyric and song.

Click here for the full category description

Position papers

Category overlap


Pocket judging system

Scoring level descriptors

Contest & Judging Team Handbook