A good texture for Rock music.

A good texture for Rock music, if your pun filter has gone haywire.

A cappella singing is one of those very extensible forms with which you can do all kinds of fun things — sometimes you will impersonate instruments, other times you will be a choir, a barbershop quartet, a doo-wop group, a horn section, or even a band of flamenco clappers.  In all cases, the scoring of the arrangement will change.  Or at least, it probably should.

Examples of textures will include descriptions of the bottom-to-top stacking of the voices, and what kind of singing each part is doing.  To get your brain jogging, here are a few examples of possible “roles” you can give different voice parts — this list excludes tricks such as dynamics and vowels in order to start the brain working at different ways to stack voices.

A Few Basic Textures

  • Homophonic (barbershoppy) textures, where all voices sing more or less the same rhythm and words.
  • A separate and free bassline, with upper voices singing the same rhythmic accompaniment together.
  • All voices singing different lines – contrapuntal writing throughout.  This one gets cluttered if you’re not careful.
  • Block chords plus bass and descant, wherein the basses might sing something slightly different, the block sings long whole notes, and a person or two sings a solo instrumental line over the top (or in the middle) to give the piece melodic contour.
  • Splitting off your men from your women, with each group singing distinctly different rhythms: for example, power chords (open fifths) in the lower two voices, and a homophonic rhythmic pattern in the upper two.
  • Hocket, in which each part rests a bunch and repeats a note at rhythmic intervals — sounds quite a bit like popcorn popping.
  • Bellchords: multiple parts work together to sing an arpeggiated chord.
  • Soli group of 3 singers breaks away to harmonize with the soloist, and the block is reduced by one voice.
  • Sectional soli, where one particular voice part takes center stage for some purpose, with or without accompaniment from the other sections.
  • Percussion solo!  Doom digga doom doom pff!

These will make more sense in time as they are further developed in Advanced Explorations.  Roughly speaking, though, the texture used at a given moment can be switched throughout the piece, and sudden shifts between textures can make for striking and effective points of impact.  Furthermore, these textures will help you decide which vowels will be most appropriate to use, based on how much you want certain parts to stand out.

There are many groups who tend to overuse certain textures as a tried-and-true compositional technique; if you continue to spice up your arrangement with changing employment of these different textures (or many of your own!), you’ll keep the audience entertained, and you’ll keep your group from getting bored.

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Dear Sir,

Could you explain more on “Hocket”???? Or could you illustrate with some examples??



Written By Viola Yuen on December 31st, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

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