12: A Cappella

I love a cappella music. Multiple voices coming together and flowing together in beautiful harmonies, with no musical instruments to “distract”. A cappella always sounds magical and mysterious, taking me to it’s special universe of sounds, echos and flavors.

A cappella music comes in many styles and sounds. Here I will present a (very) few examples that I came across over the years. You are welcome to add your contributions in this installment of This Reminds Me.

We start with… Lady Gaga. Yes, to me it was a surprise that of all artists, Lady Gaga will do an a cappella. I was used to her high-power, super bombastic productions of cellophane-wrapped shallow pop. But then I came across this a cappella variation of her song Born This Way:

And I actually liked it. IMHO, in this simple, down-to-earth version, Lady Gaga is much more real, authentic and believable.

Talking about Lady Gaga and cellophane-wrapped shallow pop, it turns out there is an a cappella cover of one of Lady Gaga’s… well cellophane-wrapped shallow pop hits. On The Rocks – an all-male a cappella group from the University of Oregon – brings us this little improvised musical joke – an a cappella version of Bad Romance.

I love it! Just a bunch of talented young people, not taking life too seriously and having fun. Not the highest quality production but I have a big smile on my face whenever I watch the clip. Common u’all, loosen up! Not everything has to be perfect. As long as we are having fun…

The next example actually combines a fascinating mix of a cappella with instrumental music and of old and new – Gregorian Chanting and electronic music. The Enigma project, lead by Michael Cretu introduced this new amazing and enchanting style. When I first heard MCMXC a.D., it was a WOW moment for me. OK, no more words. Just listen, find those Gregorian nuggets and get lost in the music.

There are tons of more examples of a cappella but I will stop here with my last example – a true hidden gem. A cappella usually implies multiple voices from multiple signers without instruments. Here we have multiple voices from one singer. Israeli singer Hani Livne created this beautiful album called Vocaliza.

She overdubbed multiple tracks for each song, singing various roles – lead, bass, back, second, even instruments. Most songs are without any instruments. What a beautiful and special album. I have a blast every time I hear it and marvel at both the beauty and high quality of the production and Hani’s beautiful clear voice.

So here we are. Do you like a cappella? Any cool pieces you love?

12 thoughts on “A Cappella

  1. https://youtu.be/81L7Vr9sYeI

    One of my favorite musical styles as I have always felt that our voices were our first instruments and a truly blessed vocalist will have a perfectly tuned instrument. Many performers can be trained, taught and be specific to a certain genre but a beautifully toned voice will carry over many genres.

    And this is a beautiful mix of two amazing female singers.


    Again, a wonderful visit to a wonderful music world.

    1. Thank you Peggy. I am happy how you bring the American tradition here which is not my forte. These are lovely examples.

  2. Hi Moshe,
    Thank you very much for another post. Hani Livne is a real treat. I would like to recommend the most fresh and talented A-Cappella group today in Israel – “Carmel A-Cappella” from Haifa. You can start from here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=100&v=nJaezskegdc and go further to their collaboration with the Swingle Singers.
    In my video works you can find Shir Hamaalot in A-Cappella version by Neve-Shir choir : https://vimeo.com/129954505 .
    Uri Rosenberg

    1. Oh this is a nice surprise – I never heard about Carmel A-Cappella. I just watched a few of their clips and indeed they are very good. It’s nice to see new talent. No wonder they hooked up with The Swingle Singers. They have a very similar style and high quality. Thank you for introducing them.

    1. Oh yes! I remember now! Thank you for reminding me Avi. I have seen some of their clips before and liked them. They seem to me a bit more on the light side (compared with Carmel A Cappella) but they perform well and are fun to watch and hear. Thank you.

    1. Hi Eti,

      I’m glad 🙂 Sounds like one of those cases where you love something but never put a name on it. Then one day you see the name and say: “Oh yes, so that’s what they mean…”.
      Glad you loved everything. Any examples you have?

    1. Wow. Exquisite. This is indeed top of the top. I didn’t know this piece or I would definitely have placed it in my post. I enjoyed it very much. Thank you, Uri.

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