March 29, 2013

U.S. May Sell Airwaves That Help Broadway Sing

New York Times:

An hour before curtain at “Mamma Mia!” at the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway, Craig Cassidy, the head sound man, starts his nightly ritual of testing the wireless microphones that the performers wear hidden in their white spandex bell bottoms.

The run-throughs by Mr. Cassidy ensure that the microphones are transmitting on their assigned frequencies, a narrow sliver of the nation’s airwaves. The same process takes place every night at nearly four dozen other Broadway theaters, where an inadvertent twist of a dial can put a cordless microphone on the wrong frequency — wreaking havoc if it should send the harmonies of Abba in “Mamma Mia!” into the speakers of a performance of “Wicked” across the street.

“It’s quite a juggling act we have to perform in this area to coordinate the use of all of those microphones,” Mr. Cassidy said.

But Broadway producers are alarmed that this carefully balanced system is about to crumble. The Federal Communications Commission is considering plans to force the users of cordless microphones — not only Broadway producers but an unlikely alliance of megachurches and the National Football League — to move to a less desirable spot on the nation’s airwaves. The F.C.C., backed by Congress, hopes to auction off those prime airwaves now used by singers, preachers and coaches to data-gobbling smartphone companies, potentially for billions of dollars.

Read more.

Well I have always had problems with cordless mics and have stopped using them in the Harmony Sweeps. Several a cappella groups that used to insist on using them have now gone back to corded mics (love them SM 58s). Just yesterday a group was telling me about wifi cordless mics which sounds pretty good.

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM

March 26, 2013

28 Signs You Sang A Cappella In College

All current and former collegiate a cappella singers should check this out:-

Buzzfeed: - 28 Signs You Sang A Cappella In College

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM

Singing in paradise

Here's a plug for Tony Backhouse and what seems like an excellent idea for a vacation. Bali, massage and top notch a cappella - what a great combo.

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM

March 22, 2013

New York Voices give vocal jazz some depth

Boston Globe:

Singing may be the most personal form of musical expression. But New York Voices have taken the team approach for 25 years, carving out their own niche in the sometimes inhospitable world of the jazz marketplace.

“It’s the blessing and the curse of singing. The best thing about it is you just feel like you’re letting people into who you are, but it’s also really terrifying. There’s nothing to hide behind,” says founding member Peter Eldridge. “Your pants are down and you’re right there for all the world to see. I’ve grown to enjoy that vulnerability, but it took a long time."

Composed of Eldridge, Kim Nazarian, Lauren Kinhan, and group leader Darmon Meader , the quartet riffs on a mixture of favorites from the jazz songbook, original tunes, and the occasional contemporary-pop cover. (Original members Caprice Fox and Sara Krieger are no longer with the group.) The vibe is an amiable, accessible take on vocal jazz, but the Voices have proven quite adaptable, fine-tuning their musical project to suit a series of successful collaborations.

They won a Grammy for a live album recorded with the Count Basie Orchestra, and a Latin Grammy for their featured work on an album of Brazilian jazz by Paquito D’Rivera. For shows at Scullers on Friday and Saturday, they’ll be backed by a traditional acoustic trio.

The group has a “book” (or repertoire of original arrangements) for work with big bands and for an orchestra environment as well. The latter was coaxed along by calls for collaboration from the Boston Pops.

“You get a phone call and there’s a big band from Estonia that wants to hire you. You wonder what in the world that’ll be like,” remarks Kinhan with a touch of amusement, “but this band was unbelievable. Music that was created here in the United States is adored everywhere. We go to Moscow all the time now and work with a big band there.” For a group without a backlog of hits to “coast” on, Eldridge says, these collaborations offer a chance to “go back to school” and refine their approach. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM

March 21, 2013

Arnold Robinson RIP

I have just heard the terrible news that long-time Nylons member Arnold Robinson has died. Beyond a posting on the Nylons Facebook wall I have no further details. I met Arnold several times over the years and his incredible bass voice was a wonder to hear. He should certainly be considered one of the founding members of contemporary a cappella and the Nylons were ground-breaking in their time and, for awhile, enjoyed the success of being a major touring act playing large venues around the world. He's singing now with the "choir in the sky" and they have never sounded better!

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM

March 20, 2013

A Roomful of Teeth

Washington Post:

A cappella singing means singing without accompaniment. But how do you define accompaniment? Doesn’t amplification accompany? What about extended vocal techniques like Korean p’ansori singing or Tuvan throat singing? If you’re a soprano and you’re yodeling into a mike while three other women are spreading a pad of mellifluous vocal sound underneath your hard-edged tones, aren’t you being accompanied?

It probably doesn’t matter. The salient point is that it’s unusual (which is a given) and worth hearing (which is not). The yodeling piece is called “Cesca’s View,” by the composer Rinde Eckert, and you can hear it on the self-titled debut album of the vocal octet Roomful of Teeth — that is, if you missed the group’s concert at the Atlas on Monday night.

Roomful of Teeth records with New Amsterdam Records, and all three of that label’s composer-founders were represented on the program — including Judd Greenstein, whose “AEIOU” offered the vowels in question, produced with a raucous edge that carried them away from the traditional sound world of beautiful vocal production, until the singers finally arrived at a round “U” sound, suspended on notes that formed an intriguing, sculptural chord, twisting gently in midair.
Read more.

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM

March 16, 2013

Bionic A Cappella

Fastcodesign.com

It’s a strangely captivating, inhuman monstrosity. An a cappella group is strapped into a series of hydraulics. They each sing a note, and with a few buttons pressed, their bodies turn and contort to augment the pitch.

The Pendulum Choir, by Cod.Act’s Andre and Michel Decosterd, is basically an organ that plays with human pipes. It’s what might happen when homo sapien musicians are plugged into the Matrix, and that merging of man and machine is entirely the point.

“Up to now, we always used sensors to detect movements and use the result to produce and/or control the sound,” Andre tells Co.Design. "The idea behind pendulum choir was to find a direct physical relationship between sound and movement, where the bodies of the singers replace the sensors. We also wanted that the parameters of speed, acceleration, and movement influence in a natural and physical way the characteristics of the voice of the singers.”

This choir, for as shiver-inducing as it may look, actually resembles traditional wind instruments more than their modern electronic replacements. Consider a digital synthesizer. You passively hit a key, which is really just a sensor that tells an onboard computer to produce a tone. But to play a tuba, it requires the full, physical commitment of human energy into the machine. And that energy, augmented by valves and tubing, is ultimately what the audience hears in their ears.

The difference in Pendulum Choir, of course, is that the humans aren’t playing the machine so much as the machine is playing its humans.

“The appearance of the human being as part of the machine brings to the whole a narrative aspect as well as an important emotional aspect,” Andre writes. “Its resultant is a morphological relationship between the human being and the machine, both part of the same living organ.”

And if this makes you squeamish, you probably don’t want to see the 2.0 version: An arduino that stabs humans with a hot poker--to the beat, of course. Read more about the project here.

Watch the choir here.

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM

Bionic a cappella

Fastcodesign.com

It’s a strangely captivating, inhuman monstrosity. An a cappella group is strapped into a series of hydraulics. They each sing a note, and with a few buttons pressed, their bodies turn and contort to augment the pitch.

The Pendulum Choir, by Cod.Act’s Andre and Michel Decosterd, is basically an organ that plays with human pipes. It’s what might happen when homo sapien musicians are plugged into the Matrix, and that merging of man and machine is entirely the point.

“Up to now, we always used sensors to detect movements and use the result to produce and/or control the sound,” Andre tells Co.Design. "The idea behind pendulum choir was to find a direct physical relationship between sound and movement, where the bodies of the singers replace the sensors. We also wanted that the parameters of speed, acceleration, and movement influence in a natural and physical way the characteristics of the voice of the singers.”

This choir, for as shiver-inducing as it may look, actually resembles traditional wind instruments more than their modern electronic replacements. Consider a digital synthesizer. You passively hit a key, which is really just a sensor that tells an onboard computer to produce a tone. But to play a tuba, it requires the full, physical commitment of human energy into the machine. And that energy, augmented by valves and tubing, is ultimately what the audience hears in their ears.

The difference in Pendulum Choir, of course, is that the humans aren’t playing the machine so much as the machine is playing its humans.

“The appearance of the human being as part of the machine brings to the whole a narrative aspect as well as an important emotional aspect,” Andre writes. “Its resultant is a morphological relationship between the human being and the machine, both part of the same living organ.”

And if this makes you squeamish, you probably don’t want to see the 2.0 version: An arduino that stabs humans with a hot poker--to the beat, of course. Read more about the project here.

Watch the choir here.

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM

A Bionic A Cappella Group

Fastcodesign.com

It’s a strangely captivating, inhuman monstrosity. An a cappella group is strapped into a series of hydraulics. They each sing a note, and with a few buttons pressed, their bodies turn and contort to augment the pitch.

The Pendulum Choir, by Cod.Act’s Andre and Michel Decosterd, is basically an organ that plays with human pipes. It’s what might happen when homo sapien musicians are plugged into the Matrix, and that merging of man and machine is entirely the point.

“Up to now, we always used sensors to detect movements and use the result to produce and/or control the sound,” Andre tells Co.Design. "The idea behind pendulum choir was to find a direct physical relationship between sound and movement, where the bodies of the singers replace the sensors. We also wanted that the parameters of speed, acceleration, and movement influence in a natural and physical way the characteristics of the voice of the singers.”

This choir, for as shiver-inducing as it may look, actually resembles traditional wind instruments more than their modern electronic replacements. Consider a digital synthesizer. You passively hit a key, which is really just a sensor that tells an onboard computer to produce a tone. But to play a tuba, it requires the full, physical commitment of human energy into the machine. And that energy, augmented by valves and tubing, is ultimately what the audience hears in their ears.

The difference in Pendulum Choir, of course, is that the humans aren’t playing the machine so much as the machine is playing its humans.

“The appearance of the human being as part of the machine brings to the whole a narrative aspect as well as an important emotional aspect,” Andre writes. “Its resultant is a morphological relationship between the human being and the machine, both part of the same living organ.”

And if this makes you squeamish, you probably don’t want to see the 2.0 version: An arduino that stabs humans with a hot poker--to the beat, of course. Read more about the project here.

Watch the choir here.

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM

March 13, 2013

Michelle Obama loves Sweet Honey in the Rock

First Lady Michelle Obama attended the recent CD release concert of Sweet Honey in the Rock who she has called "one of my favorite groups in the whole wide world". She came back stage to meet with the group and it looks like we have an a cappella fan in the White House!

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM

The Sing-Off Returns!!!

Hang on to your pitch pipes as there is great news!

It has just been announced that NBC has picked up the Sing-Off for a season 4 and are holding auditions in Chicago, Nashville, New York and Los Angeles. I think the success of the Pitch Perfect movie gave a really nice push for the already growing interest in a cappella and, along with Pentatonix's amazing touring success, helped encourage NBC to renew the show. No news yet as to whether the same judges and host will be involved but I will of course post more news here as soon as it becomes available. O happy day! Read more in Entertainment Weekly.

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM

March 12, 2013

Justin Timberlake sings barbershop "SexyBack"


Do check out this great clip of Jimmy Fallon and his barbershop quartet The Ragtime Gals singing "Sexyback" with Justin Timberlake on tonight's Late Show.

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM

March 5, 2013

Women Whiffs? Not this year

Yale Daily News:

This past weekend, one of Yale’s longest-standing musical traditions was challenged when two women auditioned for the all-senior, male Whiffenpoofs a cappella group for the first time since 1987, though neither was ultimately admitted.

Sara Hendel ’14 said she and Mary Bolt ’14, both of Mixed Company, took the audition process seriously and asked to be given equal consideration with their male counterparts, both auditioning for tenor voice parts to discredit the argument that admitting women would force the group to modify their repertoire drastically in the short term. Both Bolt and Hendel said they feel women should have a fair chance of auditioning for the Whiffenpoofs, because the prestige and opportunities afforded by the group exceed those offered by Whim ‘n Rhythm, the all-senior female a cappella group founded in 1981 as a counterpart to the Whiffenpoofs. While several current and former members of the all-male group said they recognize the differences between the two groups, they argue admitting women would alter the Whiffenpoof’s traditional sound and image. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM