Transitions on Your Playlist

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #149: Transitions on Your Playlist

My first true love in music is not so much any individual artist or genre, nor the act singing or playing an instrument, but more so the act of making a mix tape.

Mix tapes gave way to CDs, which gave way to playlists. I can no more imagine what might come next than I could have prognosticated I would one day carry several hundred times the amount of music on a 90-minute audio cassette via a phone of similar size (not to mention that that phone would also serve as my camera, email client, and, well, phone—but I digress).

One of my favorite games to play in the practice of mix tape development has long been subverting expectations via an abrupt departure from the preceding song, in a way that fundamentally works. Sometimes it’s a matter of hopping genres from Top 40 to Broadway, or acoustic ballad to rock and roll, but maintaining a thematic thread. Sometimes it’s hopping time periods but preserving a melodic or rhythmic through line. Oftentimes, it’s much more arbitrary than all of that, but the sudden shift still feels just right.

There are few greater tools in this trade than a cappella which allows facilitates sticking with sort of the same genre, artist, or theme, while fundamentally shifting from conventional instrumentation to purely vocal music. Contemporary a cappella is largely about reinventing popular music through a new lens, whether it’s simple transcription into human vocals or true reinvention. As such, it allows for some wonderful, and wonderfully unexpected transitions on a playlist.

I love it!