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Acapella singing refers to a group of singers singing without instruments. One thing that is interesting with Acappella is that it is a form of music that does not involve using any kind of instruments. The voice of the singers produces all the accompaniments or sounds of the musical instruments.
Indeed, an Acappella singer does not refer to a typical singer; their difference lies in the format of the same art. If scientifically defined, this singing technique refers to the combined air and muscles used in singing this genre. If you want to be an acapella singer, you should be perfect in your alto. It can’t be flat, and your “jin boo-boo bops” should not stay behind the beat. Moreover, your breath support should not be flakey. It means that Acappella song should be focused on its most beautiful perfection.
What does Acapella Mean?
Acapella is an Italian term which means “by way of the chapel,” and it is often performed in groups.
Acappella music is solo singing without the accompaniment of musical instruments. It differs from cantata in the way that the latter is performed with accompanied singing. Acappella was initially created to make a contrast between Baroque concertato and Renaissance polyphony styles. This singing style was brought about by the renewed Renaissance polyphony during the 19th century. Another factor that brought this unaccompanied vocal music technique is that instrumentalists usually doubled the vocal parts.
This music genre was created because the gospel music and other religious genres were popular at that time. The congregational style in music may have inspired the creation of this musical genre.
Acappella Voice Parts
An Acappella group/vocal band also consists of the 5 major voice parts (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, and bass) like the choir. The Acapella group may have multiple sopranoes, altos, tenors, and baritones in a group based on the band setups. However, the Accapella does consist of the additional percussion voice parts. The percussion voice part has to replicate the percussion sound with beatboxing vocal techniques.
Voice Range Factors That You Must Know
An Acappella band consists of several participants, and they control many parts of the music, including the vocal sections that form the music. To understand what an acapella is, you can listen to an acapella group and the music they play to have a grasp of how it is being performed. After listening to a lot of acapella music done by acapella groups, then you will realize that the singers perform like a choir. The significant distinction between acapella and a choir is that acapella does not use any musical instruments. This is the most challenging part of performing this musical genre. It is done by a group of people, and although it can also be solo, it is best to have an accompaniment of other singers. In this case, you need singers who will cover the low, mid, and high pitches of the vocal spectrum.
Bass / Low Notes
The singers should be able to deliver a bass-heavy vocal style. This style should resonate well up to the bottom end. To achieve this, it’s best to find somebody who has a deep voice. However, that singer should have the ability to control his/her voice.
Middle and High Notes
In this technique, you also need someone who can sing up to the highest scales of the song – falsetto or otherwise. In this aspect, the singer should have full control of his/her vocal cords. Then, you need singers that will support the group – either through harmony, accompaniment, or other background vocals.
If you want to perform better in acapella, it’s a good idea to listen to some of the music that you want to sing. This way, you will emulate the styles and habits of those performers, and innovate them to have a new style.
In composing an Acapella song, separate the sections of the song that will be sung by the singers.
You can start with a bass section having mids and highs, while the song is backed up by the vocals that create its impressive mood. These backing vocals improve the feeling and character of the song. In their absence, the raw vocals might become out of tune.
Techniques & Skills You Will Need to Sing Acapella, a.k.a Singing Without Music!
1) Basic Singing Theory
You need to have sufficient experience in music theory, especially on the part of music sheet delivery and recognition. Typically, in the classical acapella group, every singer will be given a music sheet for the song. You have to read and sing the notes of your voice part from the music sheet.
Furthermore, understanding chords, form, and intervals are a major part in arranging and composing an acapella song. It doesn’t matter at all even if you focus on the diminished chords and plagal cadences because you will use all of them in the process.
2) Active Listening
Acappella music is great for active listening and training yourself to analyze the many aspects of the music that you are hearing.
The natural value of this music is what makes it great for listening. You should have a strong starting point to develop your analytical ability as a musician with active listening power. You should appreciate that your brain has evolved in countless generations in listening and analyzing the human voice. Aside from this, you are already aware of the many sounds that your voice can produce. Conversational listening has honed your skills in separating your voice from others that surround it. These are the qualities that you need to become a great musician.
3) Singing in Harmony
Since you’re only using the human voice and a wind instrument in Acappella music, you can feature clear and sustained harmonies. You can do better in this kind of music than the one that is performed with other kinds of instruments. For students who want to develop their harmonic awareness, this music is more accessible for them.
One important aspect of Acappella music is that the singers are interacting and collaborating in the group. They work together to create varied, powerful, subtle, and interesting harmonies than any other musical style.
In rendering acappella music, you can make it easy as a beginner if you appreciate harmonies.
4) Timbral Appreciation
You should remember that when you explore any of the resources mentioned here, including the playlist that you find at the end of this article, there are various musical styles that you’ll find in acappella genre.
It’s not even a genre, but something that is more than a “piano music or guitar music.” You can perform any musical style or genre in acappella arrangement, and some groups have already proven this.
Aside from the varied styles in music that you can find in acappella songs and groups, you can have a great variety in any given track. As compared to the formal intonation that you hear in church choirs, acappella groups exploit all aspects of the human voice. In this fashion, it creates a wide range of timbres and sounds to convey the intended musical effect.
Take advantage on this situation, you have to increase your timbral skills with acappella music.
5) Singing for Pitching
Pitching is the key to acappella music. The singers should ensure that they are perfectly attuned to each other. They should have powerful ears to hear a pitch that only a few instruments do.
If you listen to these singers, you will develop your sense of pitch as well as tuning. Pitching is an important aspect that makes acappella music sound professional. So, if you have time, it’s good to listen to recordings of acappella music done by amateur singers to learn how to sing without music.
Training your ear in pitch with acappella music can be a major factor to improve your ability in analyzing the quality of a musical performance.
6) Other Skills
Muscle memory and vocal agility are important factors in acappella voice. You can perfect these skills through melisma warm-ups, massive memorization, stretching vocal range, perfect pitch exercises, and ear training. Acappella is a unique art for perfectionists. If you’re not aiming for perfection, you might just be wasting your time with acappella music, but if you’re serious in aiming high and improving your musical ability, then, acappella is for you.
Classical Acappella VS Modern Acappella
Today, we have a huge range of musical genre – from the ancient religious music, to the traditional music of Barbershop. It also includes the contemporary beatboxing-based covers of pop culture performances like The Sing-Off and Glee, and rock classics as well.
Classical Acappella Singing Style
Modern Acappella Singing Style
The modern/contemporary acapella singing style is more complicated as compared to the barbershop and classical acapella. The contemporary acapella is more emphasis on the chorus and beatboxing sound effects of various musical instruments. And the bass is heavier too. Overall, its singing style and voice arrangement is more dynamic and fueled by endless creativity.
So, which acappella style do you like?
Whatever you want in music, you’ll find acappella music anywhere that fits you. Enter the world of acappella music, and taste how to become a professional singer.