October 31, 2011
October 26, 2011
Betting on the Sing-off
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Johnny Avello, the Director of Race and Sports Operations at Wynn / Encore in Las Vegas is offering odds on who will win the Sing-Off.
Afro Blue - Odds 2 to 1
Pentatonix 5 to 2
Urban Method 7 to 2
Dartmouth Aires 8 to 1
Vocal Point 18 to 1
YellowJackets 20 to 1
Delilah 22 to 1
October 24, 2011
A cappella is not only popular here in the US but is also getting more exposure in Europe as seen here with the promo for the French version of the Sing-off called "Sing Off 100% Vocal" currently airing on major French TV network France 2.
French Sing-Off judges Tina Arena, Soprano and Michel Jonasz with host Alexandre Devoise.
October 21, 2011
The new Queens of Harmony
Congratulations to Michelle Shoemaker, Corinna Garriock, Shannon Harris and DeAnne Haugen of Martini Quartet who took top honors by winning the gold medal at tonight's finals of Sweet Adelines International held this year in Houston. This is the second gold medal for Shannon Harris who also won with Brava! Silver went to Touche and bronze was taken by AKA Quartet.
October 17, 2011
UNC clears Psalm 100 after investigation
A most disappointing ruling from the University of Northern Carolina that says Christian a cappella group Psalm100 did not violate the University’s non-discrimination policy when it ousted a gay member in August.
From Daily A Tar Heel editorial:-
"Semantics should not propagate hate. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened when the University showed off the shortcomings within a non-discrimination policy in desperate need of a revision. Late last week, the University ruled there was insufficient evidence to find that Psalm 100 dismissed its former member Will Thomason for his sexuality rather than for his views on sexuality, as the group claimed. Given the leeway provided in the policy, the University’s interpretation of the policy does have grounding. But that should come as an offense to the policy and its clear flaws, not in defense of a ruling that gave one student-funded group’s discrimination a stamp of approval.
Under the current wording of the policy Psalm 100 exploited, group members who have even the slightest disagreement with one of an organization’s beliefs must choose between membership and morals. Rather than using disagreement as a vehicle for debate, there is now a precedent for groups to simply force members into self-loathing — or else.
Imagine the outcry that would ensue if the College Republicans or Young Democrats forced every member to agree with every platform plank on the state or national level. The example seems paternalistic and heavy-handed because it is. No society has ever advanced because it stifled discussion and encouraged hate.
That situation is no different than the Psalm 100 case, in which Thomason was forced to choose between the group and his identity. Sexual orientation is just as much a matter of choice as one’s race. You are what you are. And people can choose to act and think however they desire, but to force them into acting and thinking one way because it’s ‘wrong’ to do otherwise is discriminatory — no matter what the rules say. Read more."
I agree wholeheartedly. Above is local TV station NBC17's interview with ousted UNC senior Will Thomason.
October 14, 2011
Talkapella iPhone App Transforms Speech Into 4-Part Harmony
Khush, the music creation company behind iPhone app sensations LaDiDa and Songify, today introduces Talkapella, an iPhone app that magically transforms speech into 4-part harmony. Khush uses advanced artificial intelligence technology to make music creation easy using the iPhone. Khush is profitable, and more than 80M songs have been created using its apps.
"LaDiDa and Songify have been downloaded more than 7 million times, and Khush is profitable on a minimal amount of funding -- this is clear evidence that there's a market for apps that help people express themselves with music," said Prerna Gupta, founder and CEO, Khush. "Our goal is to make music self-expression as ubiquitous as social expression. User demand for an a cappella version of Songify has been enormous, and we're thrilled to bring Talkapella to market."
Talkapella is based on a sophisticated speech-to-music technology that builds on the concept of AutoTune. A user's speech is intelligently mapped to four voices to create a rich vocal harmony. Just like a real composer, the artificial intelligence maps the speech patterns to the musical patterns, so the words match the phrase of the melody. This is done by intelligently stretching and compressing the speech based on the location of vowels and consonants. The result is a magical transformation of speech into a killer a cappella track.
Khush is a spin-off from Georgia Tech, based on a "reverse karaoke" technology developed by co-founder Parag Chordia. Chordia and co-founders Gupta and Alex Rae commercialized the technology and formed Khush. Parag remains a professor at Georgia Tech, and is the head of the university's Music Intelligence Lab. Download the free app here.
October 12, 2011
Judges got it wrong this time
Well for the first time I find myself in disagreement with the judges’ decision this week on the Sing-Off. They dismissed Sonos from the competition, a group I consider to be one of the most talented groups competing. The judges were pretty tough in their criticism of Sonos’s rendition of the Jackson Five 60’s hit “I Want You Back” for not staying true to the original version. In a way Sonos was a casualty of the playboy bunnies as the compulsory 60’s song was undoubtedly a marketing tie-in with the following TV show “The Playboy Club” which actually has already been cancelled.
I thoroughly enjoyed the different 60’s songs sung last night and sang along with all of them. Former Harmony Sweeps national champions Northshore was fabulous. Great blend! However Sonos sang a more contemporary (and very good) arrangement of the song yet the judges were not appreciative. Micheal Jackson is a tough act to follow after all. Personally I always encourage originality and the Sweeps rewards groups who try something different and pushes the a cappella envelope (hello Plumbers of Rome).
But this is also national TV and I guess things have to be a little more mainstream. I do think that Sonos felt a little lost by not being able to use their effects units. I'm no fan of electronic live voice enhancement but understand the appeal yet I do say that these effects units should be used as a creative tool and not a crutch to become dependent upon. It is about the human voice after all. Read a post show interview with Sonos here.
October 10, 2011
A cappella awe: How are their voices doing that?!
When watching the NBC reality show "The Sing-Off," a singing competition featuring a cappella groups, it's incredible to hear how full a sound the singers can produce with just their pure voices and no musical accompaniment. The human voice is the only "instrument" used.
With a cappella singing "you're putting everything out in the open with nothing else but the voice box, lips, teeth, and tongue to shape the music being made," says Dr. Thomas Carroll, a voice specialist and director of the center for voice and swallowing at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. Carroll should know. Before attending medical school, he majored in music and sang high tenor in the Oberlin Obertones, an all-male collegiate a cappella group.
According to Carroll, a cappella singing is not necessarily more demanding on the voice than singing with musical accompaniment. But, he says, it may take more athleticism from a vocal standpoint, especially to beat box, also known as vocal percussion, or mimicking the sounds of drum beats, rhythms, and other percussion instruments.
Making those explosive drum set sounds is a unique skill, explains Carroll. You have to breathe more often than other kinds of singing and support the breath for a two- to three-minute song. "It's almost like running a marathon," he points out.
Endurance is one of the unique challenges of a cappella singing and another is top-notch technique, says Jodi Jenkins, an associate professor in the voice department of the Berklee School of Music in Boston, who has sung soprano in the a cappella quintet Vox One for two decades. Since singers are not supported by music, she explains, you need really good ears to keep everybody on key and together rhythmically.
And you need a good understanding of musical instruments to figure out how to mimic them without sounding cheesy, Jenkins suggests. She considers the electric guitar one of the harder instruments to imitate because making the sounds is rough on the voice. Read more.
Chanticleer: Embracing the universality of love
After 33 years, the a cappella vocal ensemble Chanticleer may be singing better than it has ever has. Dozens of singers have come and gone since the San Francisco-based started in 1978. Its repertoire has continually evolved, and its singers have had the unusual benefit of full-time salaries. Its sound, rooted in impeccable pitch control and faultless blend from sopranos to basses, remains its strongest asset.
On Friday at Cathedral Church of the Advent, the 12 men gave plenty of reasons to keep paying attention to their every move.
Thankfully, the current touring program, titled "Love Story," has nothing to do with the sappy novel and movie by the same title. Instead, it draws from 16th century composers and their modern counterparts who were inspired by love, from biblical and secular stories originating in Spain, Italy and France to a newly commissioned work by Stephen Paulus based on a 4th century Chinese text.
Masterfully organized and continuously engaging, the program jumped between those extremes without flinching, giving rise to the universality of that profound human emotion. The lacey counterpoint and pure-toned harmonies in three Renaissance motets blossomed into the denser fabrics of 20th century French composers Maurice Durufle and Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur. As if to prove love's timelessness, the choir reverted immediately to the sunny disposition and dreamy reflection of Renaissance madrigals. Read more.
October 7, 2011
Crazy Train a cappella ad
Seems like Honda likes a cappella. Remember that cool Honda Civic ad they did a few years ago? Well here's another one of a family singing a little Ozzy.
October 4, 2011
House Jacks Monday Night music pulled
The House Jacks got themselves a great gig this summer when they sang the vocals for this season's Monday Night Football intro. Not a cappella but lots of cool vocal sounds. However last night ESPN pulled the opening song after some rather questionable comments by Hank Williams Jrs. regarding President Obama. Read the CNN story here. I say lose Williams and let the House Jacks do the whole thing!
Above is backstage video of the House Jacks shooting the Intro Song. How about cheer leaders for a cappella? I like the concept.
October 3, 2011
Sing-off week 3
I continue to enjoy the Sing-Off and am impressed at how relatively poised and polished the groups are. Most of the singers have no experience of being on TV and probably do not have extensive performing arts training. I see a little nervousness but for the most part the featured singers are being very professional especially as they are often doing choreography which they are probably not accustomed to. Sure the groups are getting a lot of top notch coaching but so do the big stars. Well done everybody
I have guessed correctly the judges’ decisions 4 out of 5 times so far but have no firm favorites and think almost all the remaining groups have a shot at winning. I have found the judges’ comments to be spot on in most cases if perhaps a little too flattering at times. They are doing a great job and seem to becoming more and more comfortable in the role. Sara Bareilles is a delight and her blushing at the serenade by YellowJackets was charming. Watch clips or full episodes here.