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Singing Unplugged: Just What is Acapella?

Written by on Sunday, October 23rd, 2016. Filed Under: Music

Charles here, and I go through a good dozen musical moods while at work depending on my energy levels, deadlines, and the weather outside. Recently I slipped back into the acapella mood and started wondering about the mechanics of it all. Thanks to the group VoicePlay for inspiring this discussion.

Seeing as my musical experiences only range from countless years of flute, the once in a blue moon karaoke appearance, and more singing in my car than I’ll admit to…I really don’t know what the history or logistics of acapella style music actually are.

I know the first acapella group I was familiar with was Rockapella thanks to Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?.

Then there’s their ever-catchy coffee jingle. (Having been in the branding world for nine years now, I respect them for a job well done as it’s seriously the only coffee brand jingle, tune, or advertising I tend to remember at any given time.)

It’s easy enough to delineate the different singing ranges of Alto, Soprano, Tenor, Baritone, and Bass. And most acapella groups I’ve listened to have a beatboxer or two to provide the percussion to songs. But are there more aspects a casual listener doesn’t pick up inherently? Are there more delineations and breakdowns of how acapella groups are organized? How do they choose their songs? What about the mashup songs of multiple pieces.