MidWest Book Review
from “Lorraine’s Bookshelf”
“A Cappella Arranging” is a concise, practical, guided curriculum for (sophisticated) vocal music arranging at all levels. Written by practiced professionals, the text is described as “structured to act as a kind of self-contained arranging course…” but it is accessible to beginning arrangers of all ages and music students and amateurs.
Readers will profit most from the book’s wisdom if they have a basic knowledge of music theory, basic notation skills, and simple piano skills. However, if some of these are lacking, supplementary resources are listed in the appendices that are helpful.
“A Cappella Arranging” can be thought of as a self contained arranging course, but it can also be a reference tool. Since a cappella is the oldest form of music (vocal), it has a long and varied history of different musical trends and traditions, that are also continuing to evolve. First in the vocal arranger’s vocabulary is “Basic Arranging in 10 Steps,” a condensation of the a capella arranging process.
This is followed by 24 incredible creative chapters that build on the basic steps of vocal a cappella arranging to bring it to a high level of complexity. A highly practical instruction manual, “A Cappella Arranging” covers a multitude of thorny issues for vocal a cappella arrangers in a very compact, non-threatening format.
One of the stand-out chapters is Chapter 21, Specific A Cappella Styles: A “How-To History of A Cappella, covering vocal arranging history from classical music to gospel, including polyphony, chorales, barbershop, doo-wop, vocal jazz, and big band.
The stellar teaching value of “A Cappella Arranging” is undeniable in this rapidly evolving profession. In addition, a number of helpful appendicdes include valuable information on other notable arrangers, recommended texts, online resources, and a glossary of terms. “A Cappella Arranging” belongs in every vocal music program, classroom, and also recording studio.