Singing Naked

In the beginning was the song. And then came fun.

Homer was apparently quite a vocal performer. Ancient Greek theatre used speaking, chanting and singing to capture three different types of dramatic moments.

While today’s technology can create amazing effects and enhancements for live performance, it’s good to remember the power in the purity of singing a cappella.

A cappella was the “church style” of singing for a direct connection to God without the ornamentation of instruments. Gregorian chants, named after the late sixth and early seventh century Pope Gregory, are a perfect example of non-harmonic, or monophonic, singing. As beautiful as the chants can be, there aren’t a lot of laughs.

Today’s a cappella approach comes from the Yale University Whiffenpoofs. The Whiffenpoofs came together in 1909. (The name came from a fish in the Victor Herbert musical, “Little Nemo.”) A cappella groups at campuses across America continue the tradition of choosing a fun name and finding the right songs to adapt.

Here’s the a cappella formula: take a classic song or pop hit, use some of the group’s voices as a rhythm section and the other voices for multi-layered harmonies. Each a cappella group has its own style of delivery and dress. However, the key is to make sure the audience knows how much fun they are having performing the song.

The best kind of performance — in any form — is when the artist is doing something you know that you can’t do. The campus performance environment goes one step further: just as with the Ancient Greeks, it’s one’s peers who are performing. Usually the groups are made up of the kids who don’t appear to be the coolest, the best athletes, or the most popular on campus. But then they open their mouths and everyone is cheering.

The Contemporary A Cappella Society keeps track of many of the groups. Currently they are running a feature of a cappella groups doing their versions of U2 songs.

So, here’s a shout out to all the a cappella groups who create perfectly harmonious and humorous entertainment.

- Bill Reichblum

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One Response to “Singing Naked”

  1. Vocal Lessons Dude
    April 12th, 2010 18:08

    That’s awesome. I love it when people get creative with their singing. I’d love to see accapella society.

    Vocal Lessons Dude

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