Lunday has been hitting all the right notes

Posted 2/17/22

In the world of barbershop quartets there is a phenomenon known as the fifth voice or overtone. The fifth voice is the harmonic joining of the four tones in a quartet which, when perfectly matched, create an actual fifth harmonic. 

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Lunday has been hitting all the right notes


In the world of barbershop quartets there is a phenomenon known as the fifth voice or overtone. The fifth voice is the harmonic joining of the four tones in a quartet which, when perfectly matched, create an actual fifth harmonic. 

While those unfamiliar with quartets may have thought such a thing to be folklore or legend, it is not. Long-time quartet singer and Mineola resident Duane Lunday can attest to the reality of the fifth voice.

“When it happens it creates goosebumps all up and down my arms,” Lunday stated. “The combination of the four tones must be perfect, and based on the science of sound, the number of vibrations per second of the individual voices must amplify each other.”

His eyes lit up at recounting the event. “It is an amazing thing, when it happens,” he added.

There are few more experienced quartet singers in East Texas than Duane Lunday. In fact, Lunday ‘s love affair with barbershop quartets has been life-long.

Although his talent for singing had been brought to the fore among extended family, it was at the Crozier Technical High School of Dallas where he took a serious interest in it. 

There he was strongly influenced by choir director Joe Landreth. Lunday described Landreth as a  mentor. 

“He was a very good man…a talented musician who had the heart of a teacher, and he has had a lifetime impact on my life,” Lunday said.

In 1954, at age 17, Lunday began to sing with the Dallas Barbershop Chorus.  

Four years later, he had a hand in forming the Garland chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, known by the shortened abbreviation as the S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A. The Southwest District, in which Lunday has been active his whole life, stretches from Little Rock to El Paso.

Over the next 40 years, through all the normal aspects of one’s life – marriage, raising children, building a professional career – Lunday sang in a quartet and/or chorus. He also came to serve as the president of the Southwest District. 

A technical illustrator, Lunday had a hand in developing some ground-breaking defense and electronic systems while working for a variety of defense contractors. Most notably, he helped develop algorithms used in the initial Global Positioning System (GPS) and contributed to the development of the first jet trainers used by the United States Navy. 

It is not surprising that Lunday had a technical profession. He proposed that the art of barbershopping is indeed a highly technical skill. Lunday explained that four brothers can make a quartet, not because they can sing, but because they speak in the same tempo and with remarkably-similar pronunciation. “Barbershopping requires very detailed execution,” he shared.

After retiring from his chosen profession, Lunday and his wife, Maggie, relocated to Mineola. They were active in a variety of social and service organizations. In retirement, Lunday came to know that a couple of fellow barbershoppers met every Monday morning at McDonalds for coffee. 

It was at one of these coffees that Lunday became aware of an interest in re-establishing the defunct Tyler chapter. Leadership was being sought to get it off the ground. After brief consideration, Lunday stepped up to the task. 

He recalled, “We had gotten the word out through word of mouth and had 37 singers at that first meeting in 2006.”

While establishing the Tyler chapter, Lunday came to know another highly influential man in his life. Renowned Tyler doctor Stan Borum served as chorus director of the chapter.

With Lunday working as chapter president and Borum as director, the chapter flourished.

“We had an agreement,” Lunday laughed, “He didn’t tell me how to run the chapter and I didn’t tell him how to lead the chorus.” 

Borum, who Lunday described as “the most wonderful man I had ever met,” passed away in 2009.

The Tyler chapter, known as East Texas Men in Harmony, remains incredibly active, drawing barbershoppers from Avenger to Lufkin. A long-term relationship was established with Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler where the group holds their meetings and practice sessions.

As Lunday explained, “We weren’t a Christian organization, but we were.”

Due to chronic hearing loss, Lunday removed himself from the organization about five years ago.

“I had to retire before they heard me sing out of tune,” he shared with a smile. 

Lunday has been the recipient of three top awards within the world of barbershop quartets. In 1976 he earned designation as the Barbershopper of the Year at the Town North (Dallas) Chapter of the Society, and in 1980 he was recognized for his service as president of the Southwest District. His years of service to the organization led to his 2014 election into the Barbershop Harmony Society Hall of Fame. 

The three certificates and a plaque are precisely aligned on the wall of his home office. Lunday obviously draws great solace and comfort from a lifetime of memories from singing in a chorus and in quartets.

“I have been a member of what is now called the Barbershop Harmony Society for 68 years,” he stated.

Lunday is confident about the future of the society. He explained how people respond to the wholesomeness and iconic nature of barbershopping.

“We were G-rated before there were any ratings.” he advised, “We sing good-feeling songs and people respond to that.”

As Lunday explained the individual roles of a barbershop quartet – the lead, the tenor, the bass and the baritone – he took the time to explain how the most important role was the baritone. It was from the baritone, he said, that the others modulate their tone. 

With a lifetime of achievement and service, it is clear that Lunday himself has served as the “baritone” for the Barbershop Harmony Society for a long time. A discussion with Lunday about the larger perspectives of life discloses that his steady approach to living, with all the joy and grief that it brings, is truly wise counsel.