Let’s get started with two key points – a cappella singing isn’t new and a cappella singing isn’t easy. “Group or solo singing without instrumental accompaniment” has been around forever and is commonly practised by choirs, folk singers and religious singers the world over, just to give a few examples. The rise of a cappella music in recent years has primarily succeeded through the idea of voices REPLACING instrumental accompaniment. Again – this isn’t a new concept but it has been very well received by mainstream music audiences.
A cappella singing, in combination with beatboxing, has brought popularity and near cult-like following to the genre. You can’t look at the recent history of a cappella music and not talk about Pitch Perfect. The Pitch Perfect franchise capitalises on the very rich history of a cappella “pop” music and on the interest in a cappella singing, gleaned from shows like NBC’s The Sing-Off. Pop culture is now catching up with music nerds from all over the world who have long appreciated a cappella music and it is really starting to show in music sales and industry recognition. Hip a cappella act, Pentatonix, won a Grammy this year for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella.
The rise in the genre’s popularity is great news for the music world (classical and contemporary, alike) as it suggests renewed enthusiasm for creative music-making and sophisticated musical appreciation. There is an unfortunate trend towards over-amplification and auto-tune adjustments and this is something that will continue to plague the genre as it grows in popularity. The easiest way to avoid that and still appreciate a cappella singing is to go and check out live a cappella music – there is plenty of it out there!
Here are some of our favourite a cappella clips from 2015 (and the last few years – we just couldn’t help ourselves)
Aluka, an experimental vocal group from Melbourne, perform their original Keep My Cool
Finnish a cappella ensemble, Rajaton, perform this original Butterfly
This cover of Beyoncé’s Pretty Hurts by Note-oriety