Embedded Solos

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #154: Embedded Solos

Offering individual singers short solos within a larger piece is nothing new to the world of choral music, but in the contemporary a cappella world, in which the default set up is to have one soloist with the rest of the group providing the instrumentation, harmonies, and backup, it can be particularly refreshing to hear additional soloists rise from the mix for just a few short moments to offer the song a different texture—to make the narrative of the performance feel more like a dialogue or as though the story is traveling through time or space.

This is a dynamic that I felt Pentatonix nailed, particularly on their Sing-Off run, when Scott Hoying handled most of the solos, but Mitch Grassi would chime in periodically with his sterling tenor to offer the song just a hint of a different flavor. Pentatonix is far from the only group using this device, though, with countless others weaving in additional leads to spice up their sound at key moments. Just one such example appears below—the 2007 36 Madison Avenue group out of Drew University on Seal’s “Future Love Paradise,” in which the song culminates with plenty of guys getting their shot on the lead.

I love it!