On the surface, a cappella might seem like one of the simplest forms of music—there are no instruments required, and it’s an art frequently practiced by non-professional groups. But then there’s tuning, song selection, vocal percussion, choreography, transitions, choices in attire--when did a cappella get so convoluted? In Simply A Cappella, we discuss ways of stripping down complications and getting back to the core of a cappella. This is not advice for winning competitions or perfecting recordings; it’s advice for reminding yourself why you love to sing in the first place.
When you think back to when you first started singing, or when you realized you loved to sing, there’s a fair chance you’re thinking a moment, or a series of events from your childhood. More often than not, your parents will have had a hand in this, whether they were the ones to introduce you to a favorite song from your youth, or they drove you to your choir rehearsals, or they sat at piano benches or with guitars over their knees as your first accompanists—before you knew what the word accompanist meant.
When you’re stumped for a song to take on, think about to these humble beginnings. More specifically, think of your father.
I’m generalizing, to be sure, but fathers tend to be less orally communicative than mothers. Where you may be able to open your heart and talk about your relationship, and give your thanks to your mother, it may be harder to do so for your old man. Sometimes, with fathers, it’s less about the telling than it is about the showing. And you can return that favor.
When you arrange a song for your father, it may open the doorway to another time—a golden oldie that you know he loves, or a song that bonded the two of you when you were growing up. At the same time, it will lend you simplicity and focus. You’re not worrying about arranging with an ear toward mass appeal—you’re worrying about making music that would make your father smile. If you can serve that one audience well, you’ll have accomplished plenty with that song.