A cappella is a form of music in which singers use their voice to sing with no musical instruments at all. All sounds and beats are formed by the voices of these artists. A cappella, traditionally, is an Italian word which means church or choir. The reason being, most choirs at church prefer to sing without instruments to make the songs and hymns sound more solemn and holy. A cappella is essentially an all-vocal performance.
A cappella music can be a group or solo act without the accompaniment of instruments. The use of A cappella music gained popularity, especially in western music, largely in part to religious institutions. Christian churches primarily performed Gregorian chants throughout the medieval period and well into the Renaissance period. Composers like Josquin des Prez and Orlando di Lasso expanded beyond the chant and composed polyphonic A cappella music.
Barbershop music is a form of A cappella music that began in the 1930s. It is typically performed by a quartet of men with various voice types like tenor, baritone and bass. Women’s barbershop quartets are referred to as “Sweet Adelines” quartets. The music barbershop quartets perform is extremely stylized – it is predominantly homophonic, meaning that the vocal parts move together in harmony, creating new chords in the process. The lyrics in these harmonies are easily understandable, the melodies are singable, and the harmonic structure is crystal clear. Both Barbershop and Sweet Adelines quartets have established membership and preservation societies that promotes and preserves the musical style, and each year both host contests to find the best quartet. Thus finding newer talent in the field.
Interest in A Cappella music increased majorly thanks to the hugely successful television show, Glee that released in 2009. The popularity of A Cappella music is further seen in the movie Pitch Perfect which released in 2012, the movie follows a college female A Cappella group competing to win a national championship. Movies and shows like these not only brought attention to A Cappella but made it relevant and significant in the eyes of laymen who didn’t understand the art form.
Due to this, A cappella singing was no longer bound to hymnals and classical pieces. Musical A Cappella groups gained an incredible amount of popularity during this time. Pentatonix, a group of five singers who formed their group in 2011, won the third season of NBC’s singing competition, The Sing-Off, and have sold over 8 million albums in today’s date. Their music is entirely A Cappella and incorporates vocal percussions within their original songs, covers and medleys.
India is home to various A Cappella groups like Penn Masala, Aflatunes, RaagaTrippin and more filled with talented musicians and artists.