Timbre, Tone, and Teamwork: A Look Inside Acappella

By: Nick Pothetes

Lately in movies and television a capella is being featured more and more often. With the success of the television show Glee, and the blockbuster hit Pitch Perfect the world finally has a look into the heart of acapella culture, but is it an accurate one? For this reason I chose to explore the world of acappella. I want to see if the vocal magic that comes across on the t.v. screen is a tangible thing. Over the weekend I began my acappella knowledge excavation by interviewing the lovely Monica Rodrigues. Monica attends Oregon State University and is in an all-girls acappella group called Divine. I chose to Skype-interview Monica, and it worked out very well for a number of reasons. First, the scheduled of acappella singer is apparently very busy. Your average group member has singing practice every day of the week and usually at least one performance a week. Skype offered Monica and I the opportunity to be flexible around our scheduled. The other reason why Skype worked decently well in this situation is because singing has a portable/digital presence. In other words, because singing can easily be recorded Skype allowed me to experience what I needed for my interview without being there physically.

As I advance down the road that is my reporting project I’ll be able to get help from copious sources. Some of these sources will come from the University of Oregon in the form of the music department or one of the student lead acappella groups, and other sources will be derived from outside the university including other colleges, high schools, and community groups. This melting pot of sources should hopefully give me vibrant diversity of thought to write about, and determine if the world of acappella is as a-ca awesome as pop culture has made it out to be. Finally, I feel that I’ll parcel my work throughout the term by combining pictures, audio, and video, and of course because my topic strongly revolves around singing there will be an emphasis on the audio. It would be nice if I could get high resolution sound bites of different acappella groups to capture the different vibes that are created from groups of varying personalities and pitches. Why stifle the topic to one medium? Acapella is a rich environment of sound, visual technique, and romance that should express these qualities across all fronts.

OSU's Divine Performing at a competition

OSU’s Divine Performing at a competition

Here’s a short audio clip teaser of my interview with music director Monica Rodrigues representing OSU’s all female a capella group Divine.

Monica Rodrigues

Monica Rodrigues

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