Breath as a Sound Effect

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #141: Breath as a Sound Effect

If a cappella is rooted in making the most of the human voice, one of the greatest gifts of the contemporary style over the last decade is creative use of other parts of the human body to make music. Whether it’s stomping or chest-thumping body percussion, a full-range of vocal percussion techniques, or Bill Hare famously having a member of the Tufts Beelzebubs tap his teeth into a microphone, the human body has revealed itself as a remarkably diverse musical instrument.

And how about breathing?

More and more groups have combined microphone technique with the simple act of breathing to result in a very dramatic, very cool effect, whether it’s any number of groups mimicking Imagine Dragons on the “breathin the chemicals” line of “Radioactive,” groups like Lafayette College Cadence punctuating each chorus of Maroon 5’s “Harder to Breathe” with staccato exhales, or The Cornell Chordials’ masterful take on someone running out of breath to punch up the drama in a magnificent interpretation of Tori Amos’s “Precious Things.”

I love it!