What is A Cappella?

Singing teens already know what a cappella is. This explanation is mostly for parents and non-singers. It's definitely the hottest trend in amateur vocal music with national competitions creating stars out of college and high school students. 

A cappella translates to "in the style of the chapel," a reference to the musical styles of the early Christian church such as Gregorian chant. It now means unaccompanied vocals. No instruments get to play in this style. It's up to the vocalists to provide interest with harmonies or sound effects or straight vocal virtuosity. A cappella music has morphed through many versions including barbershop and doo wop. Yes, those guys singing on the street corner were singing a variety of a cappella.

The particular strain Voices at the Coast is teaching is often associated with college groups. The Whiffenproofs of Yale University are probably the oldest example. Their group was founded in 1909 and they're still going strong. Tufts University fields the oldest all female group, The Jackson Jills, and they're still considered one of the top groups in the country. The annual competitions for college groups (the ICCAs) and for high school groups (the ICHSAs) attract crowds of fanatical followers and can make the careers of winning coaches and instructors. 

There are plenty of places to learn more about a cappella. The popular Pitch Perfect movies are a fun place to start. And did you know those movies were actually based on a non-fiction book, also called Pitch Perfect, by Mickey Rapkin which featured the University of Oregon all-girl group Divisi? The singing group in the television show Glee often performed in a similar style (although they used instruments a lot, too). A cappella even helped solve crimes in episodes of Bones and Castle

If you really want to hear what it's all about, Voices at the Coast invites you to join us in Newport on the last evening of the camp for the performance of our 2019 participants!