The Competitor's Edge

In this edition, the focus is dynamics.

A demonstration of skill

While the ability to increase and decrease a group’s volume may seem somewhat elementary to a spectator, the ability to coordinate shifts in dynamics fluidly among an ensemble can be tricky business. Doing so successfully is one of the clearest ways in which a group can demonstrate its precision, level of practice, and cohesion as a unit.

Making moments pop

A group that wishes to compete at the highest level shouldn’t vary its dynamics at random, but rather think about what dynamics will mean to a piece. Many groups want to arrive at a big moment in their sets—the point at which group members line the front of the stage and hit the audience with a wall of sound. That’s all well and good, but can only be so effective if the group hasn’t earned its moment by starting small and affording themselves someplace to build from.


In a New Year’s themed episode of How I Met Your Mother, Neil Patrick Harris’s Barney comments on how the perfect playlist isn’t about rises and falls, but rather a constant, steady build from loud and upbeat to even louder and upbeater. The point is debatable and subject to personal opinion, but in the context of an a cappella competition, the group that doesn’t switch things up threatens to bore an audience with their quiet, mellow sound or irritate them by making too much noise and ostensibly yelling at the crowd. Dynamics facilitate a group presenting different sides of itself and taking each audience member on a nuanced journey with them.

Why do you think dynamics are important to a competition set? How have you seen them used? Let us know in the comments.