A Cappella Arranging
from Hal Leonard’s MusicPro Guides series
by Deke Sharon and Dylan Bell
Before instruments, there was only the voice, making a cappella the earliest form of music. It has continued through ages from madrigals to doo-wop—and before and beyond. Contemporary a cappella, which tends to emphasize the rhythmic underpinnings of current popular music through complex textures, vocal percussion, and instrumental imitation, has exploded into the mainstream now with tens of thousands of vocal groups, like Straight No Chaser and Pentatonix, and television programs like The Sing-Off. A cappella is a global phenomenon.
A Cappella Arranging by Deke Sharon and Dylan Bell (Hal Leonard Books, $29.99) is for beginning arrangers of all ages, music students, community groups, professional and semiprofessional groups, vocal and instrumental songwriters, composers, producers, and academics. An arrangement is a map, a dress pattern, a recipe that can create a powerful bond between audience and vocal group, resulting in laughter, chills, and tears. Authors Sharon and Bell convey here their perspective about the art and craft of a cappella arranging, while encouraging readers to question, evaluate, and compare their logic in order to help musicians and arrangers find their own voices.
A Cappella Arranging includes exercises and open-ended questions intended to generate further thought and discussion. Using popular music to demonstrate arranging techniques, it covers preparing, transcription, adaptation, translation, arranging formats, developing your inner ear, vocal range conventions, song selection, listening, form and conceptualization, melody and lyrics, notation, recording, rehearsing, and much more. This book also includes a chapter on the history of different a cappella styles. Only a limited understanding of music theory is required to read this book, and an appendix and glossary with key terms is included. No other book addresses the subject of contemporary a cappella in such a comprehensive way.