"It's addictive in the best way." - Amanda Cornaglia (Clear Harmonies)
According to Mickey Rapkin’s nonfiction book Pitch Perfect, a cappella music describes one of the oldest forms of music in existence, “the kind made without any accompaniment at all,” and descended from the tradition of Gregorian chant. Yet, since the release of Pitch Perfect in 2012 - the world has been going crazy over modern a cappella music. The revival of this traditional art form was the inspiration for *VoiceJam,* an exciting 2-day festival produced and hosted by Walton Arts Center featuring vocal celebrities, workshops and a competition for a cappella groups from around the world.
We had the chance to chat with this year's competitors who will soon battle it out for a chance to compete at VocalAsia in Shanghai, China! Here's what they had to say about their passion for a cappella and its new found popularity...
Q: What differentiates a cappella from other art forms?
Mello Divas: You have to rely on yourself and each other more than in many other art forms. You have to listen more carefully, you really have to combine lots of technical elements with stage presence. It has to look and sound effortless.
DeltaCappella: The lack of instruments means there's no "safety net." Singers in an a cappella group have to rely on each other to stay in tune and produce the harmonies and textures in the music.
Clear Harmonies: It's addictive in the best way. Singing, especially a cappella, is really uplifting. A few hours in rehearsal or in a show can help get through even the worst day. This art form has also cultivated a wonderful community of creative, generous and amazing people. I've found some of my best friends through a cappella.
Hibernotes: Every art form is unique in its own way; however, a cappella music is different in that it's all about the sounds made from the mouth and the overall story that is performed. From matching vowels, crescendos, intonation, blend, energy, beat boxing and riffing, a cappella music has so many different challenging aspects.
Q: How accurate is the movie Pitch Perfect when it comes to the "a cappella world?"
Mello Divas: Not terribly accurate. People don't just improvise "perfect" arrangements on the spot like in the whole song battle thing.
DeltaCappella: I'm not sure, my gut feeling is that the movie is like most forms of mass-market entertainment in that it builds characters who represent the extremes, so the drama portrayed in the film can happen, though usually not to such extremes.
Clear Harmonies: It definitely captures the essence of collegiate a cappella. The humor, the camarderie, the build-up to a big competition. We just hope people don't see us as "The Tonehangers." We definitely don't sing a cappella to recapture any youthful glory! It was fun to be able to laugh at our community's idiosyncrasies, though. I'm looking forward to seeing how the second movie portrays the international a cappella community.
Hibernotes: Pitch Perfect is EXACTLY how the a cappella world is... Just kidding! Pitch Perfect is essentially an overly exaggerated version of what typically happens in our a cappella world. There are always challenges, especially when competition season rolls around, but in the end we all love each other and love what we do. A cappella can be a whole lot of fun and they require a lot of work and dedication too.
Q: Why VoiceJam?
Mello Divas: Deke Sharon! We thought it would be a great opportunity to learn from the father of a cappella and really high level groups.
DeltaCappella: It's rare that a competition is within driving distance of our home in Memphis. When I heard about this event in Fayetteville, I asked all the members to check their calendars to see if they were free, and thankfully, all but one of us is able to be here.
Clear Harmonies: Both the opportunity to perform for a new audience here in the U.S., as well as the chance to perform in China. I was an Asian Studies major in college, studying Japanese and Mandarin. After college, I spent 4 years living and working in Japan and traveling around Asia. The opportunity to go back to perform and introduce my bandmates to such an amazing place would be a dream come true.
Hibernotes: Back in the fall we received an email about VoiceJam, but kind of pushed it to the side because it seemed too good to be true. Deke Sharon AND a potential trip to China? We definitely thought this competition was out of our league. However, as the spring semester rolled around, we brought the idea back into the picture. We decided to be ambitious and send in a video submission for the heck of it. To our surprise, we unexpectedly got accepted and could not be more thrilled!
Come show your support for these talented and passionate individuals during Northwest Arkansas' premiere a cappella festival *VoiceJam* April 10-11 at Walton Arts Center. Visit bit.ly/VoiceJam2015 to learn more.