The Strange Allure of A Cappella

A Slate writer self-mockingly discusses the appeal of collegiate a cappella, based on a new book about the adventures of a few college groups, including the Tufts Beelzebubs and the University of Virginia Hullabahoos, and her own undergraduate ordeals:

I was an a cappella nerd, and I loved every minute of it—but, even so, I didn’t show my boyfriend the videos until we’d been dating for a year and a half. Nothing from my past evokes quite the same derision, and I say that as a former debater, mock-trial lawyer, and mathlete.

The crimes of a cappella, after all, are legion and well-documented. The dumb outfits. The dm-dm-ka-cha‘s that are supposed to approximate the sound of drums and hi-hats. The fact that on many college campuses, it’s always being shoved in your face… Perhaps most damning of all is the fact that a cappella is so painfully earnest, so distressingly eager to please.

Slate: Pitch Perfect and the strange allure of a cappella

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4 thoughts on “The Strange Allure of A Cappella

  1. Anonymous

    performing without an audience can feel sort of empty and pointless — these groups spend a *lot* of time looking for songs, arranging them for the group, and rehearsing. even if it’s fun, having a concert to work for gives things a certain kind of momentum and energy level that’s hard to replicate. if there were a big collection of pre-arranged music for a capella (which there might be; i have no idea), i could imagine a few really good sight singers getting together for a sort of jam session, but a lot of people that sing a capella aren’t those kinds of musicians.then again, i really have no idea what i’m talking about. i’m just an instrumentalist peering through the glass case of classical music. i would close this window and delete the post altogether, but hey, i’ve already written it. this comment is actually kind of like a capella groups, come to think of it.

  2. Anonymous

    performing without an audience can feel sort of empty and pointless — these groups spend a *lot* of time looking for songs, arranging them for the group, and rehearsing. even if it’s fun, having a concert to work for gives things a certain kind of momentum and energy level that’s hard to replicate. if there were a big collection of pre-arranged music for a capella (which there might be; i have no idea), i could imagine a few really good sight singers getting together for a sort of jam session, but a lot of people that sing a capella aren’t those kinds of musicians.

    then again, i really have no idea what i’m talking about. i’m just an instrumentalist peering through the glass case of classical music. i would close this window and delete the post altogether, but hey, i’ve already written it. this comment is actually kind of like a capella groups, come to think of it.

  3. Anonymous

    A cappella is fun to sing and horribly painful to listen to. Why can’t these groups be more private endeavors?Note to any a cappella groups out there: deciding to sing in Olin during reading week is a great way to make enemies.

  4. Anonymous

    A cappella is fun to sing and horribly painful to listen to. Why can’t these groups be more private endeavors?

    Note to any a cappella groups out there: deciding to sing in Olin during reading week is a great way to make enemies.

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