No one can deny the significant evidence supporting the rise of a cappella music in the mainstream culture. Recent developments, in television (The Sing-Off, Glee, groups on the X-Factor), movies (The Wedding Weekend, The Break-Up, and the upcoming Pitch Perfect), and literature (Pitch Perfect, Acapolitics, and several “how to” a cappella books premiering within a short span of each other) suggest that a cappella is no longer the dictionary definition “singing without instruments,” but a subculture that can be defined as its own separate genre of music (though some will argue that a cappella is merely an arranging style, I feel differently).
The next step of this evolution is clear: This music needs to be documented, analyzed and studied. The time has come for a school of a cappella, and for students to earn an accredited Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a cappella.
I realize this is a bold and controversial statement to make. I am not a famous performer, award winning composer, or an influential figure in the sub-culture. I am a simply a fan, a scholar, and an educator, so I tend to discuss these matters with a philosophy and praxis in mind. It is because of these truths that I have started this blog. I call upon ideas of all a cappella enthusiasts. I wish to develop a full 4 year curriculum that focuses solely on the arranging style that is a cappella.
This is the topic of my doctoral dissertation and hopefully when this long process is over, I will be able to convince one college in the United States to accept this program.
In order to study this sub-culture, we must accept some truths- A genre of music has rules (even if the rule is to break all the rules), a structure (form, texture), a natural progression (rhythmic, harmonic, melodic). To classify these in a cappella is to define standards of practice- and right now the great thing about a cappella is that it has no standard of practice- every group has a different arrangement style, a different syllable classification; most groups don’t even write music down-it’s all done by ear!
To teach an effective class on a cappella arranging, for example, the professor would have to give the students a standard of practice so that they may learn the skill on their own. From a philosophical standpoint, does the standard of practice destroy the essence of a cappella and the freedom of arranging? This is something to think about as the process moves forward.
I hope everyone and anyone who happens to read this chimes in. Upcoming topics include classes that belong in the curriculum, philosophical and psychological discussions of a cappella music, and the constant desire to spread the music of a cappella to as many schools as possible.
Thank you for reading this, even if you don’t agree. I look forward to taking this journey with you.