<![CDATA[The A Cappella Blog]]> http://acappellablog.com/ The A Cappella Blog en Copyright 2018 2018-12-14T19:41:37-05:00 <![CDATA[Pocketappella]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/pocketappella http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/pocketappella

Reason #174: Pocketappella

Some friends and I started casually using the term “pocketappella” in the mid-2000s in reference to the bevy of a cappella performers—particularly male soloists—who had a tendency to put their hands in their pockets and assume a sort of aw shucks casual posture as they took the lead on a song.

Pocketappella is not necessarily good—there’s a very real argument that it undermines the soloist’s potential to really emote or otherwise perform a song. I’m not altogether disappointed to have seen the trope die down a bit in recent years. Just the same, it’s a distinctive piece of a cappella culture—a pattern that showed up often enough to emerge a recognizable part of the community, and to do so in a time before YouTube had really took hold and performers could be so directly influenced by one another on a large scale.

 It’s simple. It’s a little silly. But just the same…

I love it!

]]>
2018-12-13T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Lay Me Down]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/lay-me-down-1 http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/lay-me-down-1

This week, we present The Chapman University ChapTones performing Sam Smith's "Lay Me Down."

]]>
2018-12-11T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Off-Beat Openings]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/off-beat-openings http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/off-beat-openings

Reason #173: Off-Beat Openings

Though more and more a cappella groups have started performing and recording original music, covers remain a staple of the form. It can be particularly pleasing to the ear when a group doesn’t only settle for covering a popular song, but goes the extra step to make the song their own in the early going before launching into a more straightforward cover.

Off-beat openings—turning the intro or even whole first verse into a slow jam, or otherwise altering the tempo or texture—can provide a creative slant on a popular song, not to mention making it all the more satisfying when the more conventional cover takes hold, after the audience was struggling to try to place it, or just starting to want to hear the familiar tune. These openings surprise the audience, freshen song selections, and allow an a cappella group to show its personality.

I love it!

]]>
2018-12-07T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[The One Person Rocking Out the Hardest]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/the-one-person-rocking-out-the-hardest http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/the-one-person-rocking-out-the-hardest

Reason #172: The One Person Rocking Out the Hardest

We’ve all seen it. At the dance club. In the children’s choir. On stage for the community theater musical. There are people who are grooving. People who look a little awkward. And that one person. That one person who may or may not be a great dancer, but who is clearly taking this party to the next level, animated, pumped, threatening to break the bounds of their body with their super-powered moves. 

A cappella does not escape this phenomenon, when there’s often times that one group member who appears a little more hyper or a little more emotionally invested, and through whatever confluence of these visual factors stands out from the pack—passionate, proud, and completely unable to contain her or his excitement on stage.

I’m not saying that having a group member stick out visually like this is the best idea for a competition, but in the context of an everyday performance, these special singers can elevate routine exhibition to engaging performance that’s more memorable, more exciting, and keeps people talking about it.

I love it!

]]>
2018-12-06T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Hush Hush]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/hush-hush http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/hush-hush

This week we present The Bristol Suspensions performing The Pussycat Dolls' "Hush Hush."

]]>
2018-12-04T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Creating Moments]]>http://acappellablog.com/the-competitors-edge/creating-moments http://acappellablog.com/the-competitors-edge/creating-moments

In this edition, the focus is on creating moments.

Be remembered.

In reviewing a cappella performances, and determining whether a set really worked, I rely most upon the dominant impression—the biggest thing I’ll take away from a given performance. Sometimes the dominant impression has to do with a group’s ability (or inability) to blend, to use dynamic variation, to choreograph, or to execute a complex arrangement. Other times it comes down to a moment.

A truly sublime moment in a cappella can go a long way toward making or breaking a set. It’s that moment that truly gives me chills. That makes me want to stand up and cheer. That makes me laugh out loud. These are the moments that stick with audience members and judges alike and that are disproportionately likely to shape everyone’s overall impression of your set.

Be organic.

You can’t force moments. I’ve seen groups go for dramatic bits of showmanship—inserting acrobatics or over-the-top choreography; belting for no clear reason—that are more confusing that vocally or visually stunning. Truly great moments feel like organic extensions of the set up to that moment—mashing songs together, building a upon movements or star players that were only hinted at earlier in the performance, or even something as seemingly simple as a fully realized climax to a crescendo. Groups that build upon the raw components of their set to result in a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts have a chance at achieving something truly remarkable on the competition stage.  

Get the timing right.

Ideally, a group wants for every song to be spectacular in its own way. When we talk about arriving at a defining moment, though, you need to be cautious about not peaking too early. Groups that arrive at their best moment in their first song run the risk of having the next eight minutes of their sets feel like a disappointment. Conversely, if a group can find a way to create the sensation they are continuing to build and build and build, arriving at spectacular point in the final song is a great way to give the set a feeling of wholeness and leave a memorable impression.

How have you seen groups make moments in competition? Let us know in the comments..

]]>
2018-11-30T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[The End to Controversy on the Internet]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/the-end-to-controversy-on-the-internet http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/the-end-to-controversy-on-the-internet

Reason #171: The End to Controversy on the Internet

In the preceding edition of 200 Reasons to Love A Cappella, I discussed the benefits of Internet controversies because they demonstrate just how passionate, opinionated, and in informed the a cappella community can be.

Just the same, controversies over Facebook, Twitter, and the comments sections of web posts—particularly when they get drawn out and heated—have a tendency to get ugly, as people grow personal, digging skeletons out of closets, devolving into name-calling, and creating hard feelings.

Thus, one of the great joys of being an a cappella enthusiast on the Internet is the moment when controversy dissolves and we move on with our lives. The thing is, at its best, the a cappella community can be remarkable for how readily people support each other—sharing advice, sharing feedback, or just plain sharing each other’s music to broadcast it to a wider audience. When controversies settle into the background, the a cappella community has a tendency to bounce back, stronger for the experience.

I love it!

]]>
2018-11-29T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Heavenly Father]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/heavenly-father http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/heavenly-father

This week we present Durham University Northern Lights performing Bon Iver's "Heavenly Father."

]]>
2018-11-27T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Controversy on the Internet]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/controversy-on-the-internet http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/controversy-on-the-internet

Reason #170: Controversy on the Internet

This selection for the reasons I love a cappella may seem counterintuitive. After all, who likes controversy on the Internet? Many of the world’s sane citizens have taken to dodging comments sections or “hiding” friends on Facebook whose posts they know will only rile them up.

But here’s the thing about controversy on the Internet, particularly as it applies to the contemporary a cappella world: there’s controversy because people care.

When no one cares, no one gets angry. But when people engage in a heated debate about who did or did not win a competition or award, about best practices in engineering live sound, about mixing and mastering technique, or about who was left off of a high-profile countdown,  it all points toward a passionate community. Yes, these controversies can be petty or grow mean spirited, but as long as they’re rooted in a place of knowledgeable, invested parties participating in a discourse, that’s the sign of a healthy a cappella scene.

I love it!

]]>
2018-11-23T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Improvisation]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/improvisation http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/improvisation

Reason #169: Improvisation

In an a cappella world that can seem increasingly planned--in which more and more groups choose to choreograph at length, and in which more and more recordings are meticulously produced, it can be refreshing every now and again to hear a group improvise.

A cappella improv comes in many forms. Whether it’s a group messing around behind the scenes en route to an innovative new sound, improv-ing as a live performance art a la Bobby McFerrin, or the riff-off concept popularized by the Pitch Perfect movies (albeit not as successfully managed in real-life practice) improv necessarily adds a level of unpredictability and excitement to a performance, for both the audience and the performers itself. There’s something pure about the sound of music not transcribed to paper, not rehearsed, and not even discussed.

I love it!

]]>
2018-11-22T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Wake Up Everybody]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/wake-up-everybody-1 http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/wake-up-everybody-1

This week we present Northern Arizona University Unaccompanied performing Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes' "Wake Up Everybody."

]]>
2018-11-20T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Start-Up Groups]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/start-up-groups http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/start-up-groups

Reason #168: Start-Up Groups

We hear a lot about groups with long traditions, the likes of The Whiffenpoofs, Smiffenpoofs, and The Nassoons. Groups that have been around longer than some retired people have been alive. I have a lot of respect for these longstanding institutions in the a cappella world, but I also love it when we get to see new groups arise.

New groups can come and go, but it’s in those initial years when the energy can catch fire—before there are rules to break and when a group is just figuring out its identity on stage, not to mention how it operates behind the scenes.

Start-up groups have the potential to change the game, whether it’s Rutgers Casual Harmony that was bringing System of a Down and Muse to the stage in its first year of competition long before such acts were en vogue in a cappella, or CSUN Acasola innovative structure and goal-setting model. Plenty of new groups start more quietly, with less defined objectives, too, and that’s also great because that dynamic shares the same core factor of starting something new. As such, new groups have all manner of potential. They might do anything, and their potential has no limits, bounds, or pre-existing structures to fit into. 

I love it!

]]>
2018-11-16T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[The Diversity of Acts In a Competition]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/the-diversity-of-acts-in-a-competition http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/the-diversity-of-acts-in-a-competition

Reason #167: The Diversity of Acts In a Competition

Watching an a cappella group perform a show can be entertaining and enriching for the opportunity to see everything a group has to offer—their whole repertoire, or at least a broad enough sampling to get the gist of everything they’re capable of. Just the same, I find myself drawing even more enjoyment from watching groups in competition.

That’s not to say that competition itself intrinsically good (or, at the least, that’s not an argument I intend to delve into here) but rather that I especially appreciate the opportunity to hear a variety of groups perform in the same sitting. Moreover, it’s particularly entertaining to hear them perform what they think of as their best ten-to-fifteen minutes of material—the material they feel is most likely to win the competition.

The past fifteen years have seen an outstanding proliferation of a cappella styles. Gone are the days when it was wacky for a group to perform a song by an original artist of another gender, or when it’s mind-blowing to hear progressive rock covered in contemporary a cappella. Sub-genres of electronic dance music, country, alternative, hip-hop, and (increasingly) originals are all equally as likely to have representation as top forty songs or classics. Moreover, it’s increasingly likely that you’ll hear all of these sub-genres—and all these sub-genres handled with different aesthetics and core sounds—within a single show.

Today’s a cappella shows allow attendees to tune into the diversity of music available in the world, and the diversity of what a cappella groups are up to.

 

I love it!

]]>
2018-11-15T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Cocoa Butter Kisses]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/cocoa-butter-kisses http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/cocoa-butter-kisses

This week we present the UC Davis Liquid Hotplates performing Chance the Rapper's "Cocoa Butter Kisses."

]]>
2018-11-13T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Mashups]]>http://acappellablog.com/the-competitors-edge/mashups http://acappellablog.com/the-competitors-edge/mashups

In this edition, the focus is mashups.

Mashups aren’t inherently good or innovative.

Mashups are en vogue in the music world. More and more DJs are producing them and advances in music software have made it increasingly easy for amateurs to get in on the game. Thus, it’s only natural that the a cappella world would hop on board.

Enter Pitch Perfect and The Sing-Off, each of which featured mashups prominently and all of a sudden a lot of a cappella groups are trying their hands at mashups.

Mashups are still both new and challenging enough that it’s easy for groups to assume that the very act of bringing a mashup to competition will come across as an innovative enough novelty to win the favor of audience members and judges. The fact of the matter is that with so many groups performing mashups, the novelty is all but gone. Don’t get me wrong—groups that can arrange and execute with excellence, or that can be truly creative about the choice of songs or how to combine them, can still make magic out of mashups. But a group shouldn’t think of mashups as inherently impressive to judges.

Think about connections.

When groups consider mashups, they need to consider how the songs will function together melodically, rhythmically, and thematically. If the songs don’t fit aurally, there’s a real risk of a group losing all sense of smooth transitions and the cool gestalt effect of songs coming together, instead winding up with cacophonous noise. Similarly, if listeners can’t understand why these two (or more) songs are being linked, it can lead to a moment of confusion—that moment breaks the illusion of your set. The goal is to make the audience take a journey with you and lose itself in your music. If the general audience member stops to think critically about your set while it’s happening, it usually means they’re distracted from your performance.

How have you seen mashups contribute to a group’s success? When have you seen them go wrong? Let us know in the comments.

]]>
2018-11-09T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Rediscovering an Album]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/rediscovering-an-album http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/rediscovering-an-album

b>Reason #166: Rediscovering an Album

You’re flipping through radio stations in the car, and you come upon a song you used to love. One you haven’t thought of, much less heard, for years. Maybe that song transports you back in time. Or maybe you write a new chapter, re-appropriating that song for the present moment.

For those of us with scores of a cappella on our hard drives and phones, it’s not unusual to have this very experience with vocal music. It can be all the more intriguing to take a stroll through a cappella memory lane for the changes in voices—particularly for scholastic groups that tend to have major turn over at least once every four years—in addition to changes in recording and production technology that have made it all the easier to earmark different eras in a group’s history.

Out of all of this, I take particular pleasure in rediscovering an old album. Time flies, and while discovering new music remains an ongoing, important process, taking a moment to indulge in something old can be a pleasure all its own.

I love it!

]]>
2018-11-08T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Came Here For Love]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/came-here-for-love http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/came-here-for-love

This week we present Syracuse University Main Squeeze performing Ella Eyre's "Came Here for Love."

]]>
2018-11-06T04:00:00-05:00
<![CDATA[Bringing Alumni on Stage]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/bringing-alumni-on-stage http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/bringing-alumni-on-stage

Reason #165: Bringing Alumni on Stage

Hands down, one of my favorite aspects of a live a cappella show is the incorporation of former group members on stage.

There are limitations to this model, of course. Incorporating alumni usually means depending on a song that has been in the group’s repertoire for a long time, rather than a fresh selection. By its nature, the group plus alumni tends to sound less rehearsed and polished. There’s often a temptation to give an alum a solo or plum spot on a song at the expense of a current member having that role.

Just the same, when alumni join a performance it lends a sense of the a cappella group as a family—people might come and go, but you’re never not a part of that group. You always have a home. What’s more, as an audience member, it’s a delight to see members from the distant past stand alongside wide-eyed freshmen who are just getting started in their a cappella careers, not to mention their lives. It lends a sense of permanence to a show—that this group has existed for a long time before this moment, and that it is in good hands for the future.

]]>
2018-11-02T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Big Crescendos]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/big-crescendos http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/big-crescendos

Reason #164: Big Crescendos

When I review a cappella shows, it’s not unusual for me to highlight groups that show care in planning and precision in executing their dynamics. These are groups that aren’t afraid to go soft and small, and by the same token don’t hesitate to flip switch to build up to a monster swell of sound.

A part of what’s great a big crescendo is it transcends technical knowledge. A completely casual fan may not know what’s happening when a crescendo hits, or have the vocabulary to name it, but when it’s done right, you can rest assured that she or he will feel it—a build of excitement and emotion to accompany the surge on stage. 

I love it!

]]>
2018-11-01T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Big Crescendos]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/big-crescendos-1 http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/big-crescendos-1

Reason #164: Big Crescendos

When I review a cappella shows, it’s not unusual for me to highlight groups that show care in planning and precision in executing their dynamics. These are groups that aren’t afraid to go soft and small, and by the same token don’t hesitate to flip switch to build up to a monster swell of sound.

A part of what’s great a big crescendo is it transcends technical knowledge. A completely casual fan may not know what’s happening when a crescendo hits, or have the vocabulary to name it, but when it’s done right, you can rest assured that she or he will feel it—a build of excitement and emotion to accompany the surge on stage. 

I love it!

]]>
2018-11-01T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Halloween Mashup]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/halloween-medley http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/halloween-medley

This week we present the NYU Vocaholics performing their Halloween mashup.

]]>
2018-10-30T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Making the Most of Your Time]]>http://acappellablog.com/the-competitors-edge/making-the-most-of-your-time http://acappellablog.com/the-competitors-edge/making-the-most-of-your-time

In this edition, the focus is on making the most of your time.

Make your case.

I’ve repeated all too many times, but it when it comes to a competition like the ICHSAs or ICCAs, your group has twelve minutes to make its case why they deserve to move on to the next round of competition or be crowned champions. A group can’t depend on previous accomplishments, or its entire body of work to succeed in competition—it’s all about what happens in the minutes allotted to a competition set.  

Go the distance.

In my limited experience judging, one of the hardest calls to make can be between a group that performs amazingly well for eight minutes, versus one that performs very well for eleven and a half. You want to reward a group that achieved such a high benchmark and settled for nothing less than top quality. Just the same, it’s hard to reward them over a group that learned more music and put together and sustained a longer performance. Ideally, a group should strive for the best of both worlds—a full and excellent set. 

Don’t go over.

Competition rules vary, but going by the Varsity Vocals standard, going over time means getting docked a full place in competition (albeit with leadership indicating this rule is rarely invoked). With more and more groups competing each year, the stakes are high. Even at the ICCA quarterfinal level, in which two groups advance from each show, you don’t want to count on finishing second. If you’re invested in winning, you need to take care of every factor that is within your group’s control—you can’t necessarily control the work of the sound engineer, or the caliber of the groups around you, or what songs they choose, or if the stage is big enough to execute your choreography the way you planned it. You can plan your time and work in a buffer to ensure you won’t go over, thus staying within the limits of the competition, and not alienating your audience.

How have you seen groups manage time effectively in competition? How have you seen them squander it? Let us know in the comments.

]]>
2018-10-26T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Fun Encores]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/fun-encores http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/fun-encores

Reason #163: Fun Encores

For every Varsity Vocals competition, the night wraps up with the winning group retaking the stage for one more song—an encore.

After hours of watching groups sing with technical precision and care, it can be a real treat to watch marvelously talented young singers cut a little bit looser. Riffing, dancing, sharing their celebration with the live audience—fighting back smiles that might belie the song at hand, trying to figure out how to balance awards certificates with their microphones while singing.

Encores—un-judged, un-scored, without another song to save the group’s voices for, present a rare, raw treat for live audiences, and an opportunity for champions to be themselves in front of an appreciative audience.

I love it!

]]>
2018-10-25T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Praying]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/praying http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/praying

This week we present The Florida State University AcaBelles performing Kesha's "Praying."

]]>
2018-10-23T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Soloists Who Sound Like the Original Artist]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/soloists-who-sound-like-the-original-artist http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/soloists-who-sound-like-the-original-artist

Reason #162: Soloists Who Sound Like the Original Artist

There are those a cappella soloists who flounder for trying to hard to imitate the original artist on a song—trying to nail inflection and mannerisms, often at the expense of intonation or other more foundational elements of singing.

But then there are those happy turns of fate when a soloist more naturally taps into the sound of the original recording artist. One of the most sterling examples I can recall, though unfortunately I could not find a video, was the 2007 incarnation of New York University APC Rhythm, featuring a soloist on The Cranberries’ “Hollywood” whose voice was a dead ringer for that of Dolores O’Riordan. I don’t suspect I’ll ever know if that was her natural voice or an impersonation, but the performance itself came across so effortlessly, and so beautifully, that it still rings clearly in my mind a decade later. It was the kind of solo that transcends strong mechanics and stage presence to arrive an unforgettable musical experience. On a broader level, it called attention to the merits of choosing songs that complement soloists—that allow the soloists to show off their greatest talents and capture the imagination of the audience.

I love it!

]]>
2018-10-19T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[The Wall of Sound]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/the-wall-of-sound http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/the-wall-of-sound

Reason #161: The Wall of Sound

Particularly at the scholastic level, most a cappella groups feature ten or more singers. While a big group can lead to all sorts of complications when it comes to harmonizing, balance, and staging, it also opens up some unique opportunities when staging and sound converge for a spectacular moment.

Take the wall of sound. Group members storm the front of the stage, getting as close to the audience as they can, and sing their loudest, all on the same part, all in unison. The effect is an all but monolithic voice that compels every eye and every ear in attendance to the stage.

 Used gratuitously or to ill effect, the wall of sound can wear out its welcome. Used at the climax of a particularly powerful song, it’s the stuff standing ovations are made of.

I love it!

]]>
2018-10-18T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Hold On, We're Going Home]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/hold-on-were-going-home http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/hold-on-were-going-home

This week we present University of Illinois No Comment performing Drake's "Hold On, We're Going Home."

]]>
2018-10-16T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[Engaging the Audience]]>http://acappellablog.com/the-competitors-edge/engaging-the-audience http://acappellablog.com/the-competitors-edge/engaging-the-audience

In this edition, the focus is engaging the audience.

Bring the noise, bring the funk.

A too-oft-ignored reality of live a cappella performance—the audience wants to be engaged. Sure, most audience have their outspoken sources of snark, but in their heart of hearts the vast majority of people come out to shows because they want to be entertained.

Groups that thrive in competition capitalize on that desire. They take the stage with palpable energy, intensity, or verity. They take the audience for a ride. A competition is the absolute worst venue for any group to “phone in” a performance. Groups should leave everything they have on the stage to leave no doubt they made the best effort possible to engage the crowd.

Perform for them, not you.

Competitions have different target demographics. The ICCAs feature college kids, and while there’s a diverse body of judges, in my informal observation, the judges generally seem to reward performances that seem true to the group—youthful, edgy, innovative. Meanwhile, for Harmony Sweepstakes, the demographics tend to skew a bit more mature, and there’s a history of barbershop groups succeeding in the setting, meaning it’s not necessarily the optimal audience for a group to <i>attack</i> with wacky new vocal stylings.

Successful groups know their audience and perform to please their sensibilities. Moreover, they put the audience first. Groups naturally develop inside jokes, but great competitors recognize that those jokes are best left internal—in the rehearsal room, not on the performance stage when they run the risk of confusing or even alienating the crowd.

Interacting with the audience.

One of the purest approaches to engaging an audience is to get them actively participating in the performance. For example, when a group achieves something epic along the lines of a barn-burning closing number, it can be a huge advantage to lead the crowd in a clap-along to get them feeling the music and feeling like a part of the story. (On the flip side, going for a clap-along on the opening number or more than once in a set runs the risk of coming across as presumptuous, pandering, or just plain annoying).

Another way of interacting is to break the fourth wall. Mind you, not every performance space lends itself to it, but if a group can take advantage of the space available and work its way into the crowd (or start in the crowd and work their way onto the stage) it can surprise the audience, stand out, and bolster audience attachment to your act based on pure proximity.

How have you seen groups engage audiences in competition? Let us know in the comments.

]]>
2018-10-12T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[When Someone Nails a Stevie Wonder Solo]]>http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/when-someone-nails-a-stevie-wonder-solo http://acappellablog.com/200-reasons-to-love-a-cappella/when-someone-nails-a-stevie-wonder-solo

Reason #160: When Someone Nails a Stevie Wonder Solo

Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, whether you’re even old enough to know who he is, there is one universal truth: it’s impossible to resist a Stevie Wonder vocal track.

Yes, Wonder is a one-of-a-kind talent, but beyond great vocals, there’s a certain joy to the man’s voice—an indelible connection to every word he sings that turns every listener to putty in his hands, fully tapping into every emotion he conveys.

Plenty of a cappella groups have tried to cover Wonder over the years. Oftentimes, they come up short for not being able to compare to Wonder’s sensational original sound. But in those rare instances when a particularly gifted soloist nails that vocal, it can quickly make for a transcendent performance—a callback to yesteryear and a joy to hear in the present moment. 

I love it!

]]>
2018-10-11T04:00:00-04:00
<![CDATA[1-800-237-8255]]>http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/1-800-237-8255 http://acappellablog.com/tuesday-tubin/1-800-237-8255

This week we present The Washington University Stereotypes performing Logic's "1-800-237-8255."

]]>
2018-10-09T04:00:00-04:00