First-Time Arranging Advice

A reader wrote in requesting some pointers on arranging for his high school a cappella group, and I thought I’d post a few here: advice for writing your FIRST arrangement.  These tips do not necessarily apply to ALL arrangements and are not general rules, but are good ways to make sure nothing goes too haywire […]

The other end of the girly spectrum

To counterpoint the post below about über alto parts, here’s something that shows some excellent soprano work. This is a segment of a Cranberry cover of Wonderwall done by UGA Noteworthy. This is a definitely a CD recording: you’ll be hard pressed to find a hall with such wonderful echo-y acoustics, and tuning tight soprano […]

Oh! You Beautiful Doll

Oh, you’re such a beautiful doll!  This 1911 hit was a wartime favorite that shows how Barbershop harmony, ragtime, and popular music overlapped. This is sung by Bill Murray and The American Quartet in 1912.  Fantastic stuff here, very vintage.  It’s hard to imagine this being the height of popular music, but here you have […]

Practice suggestions for VP

I’ll be putting up my article about vocal percussion soon, but I thought I’d give you all an opportunity to study-up before class. Try to imitate drums in heavy metal songs. Let out your secret love for Linkin’ Park and Metallica, and just give your mouth a go. Put on some Emperor and see what […]

A brief Quick’n'Dirty 10-step Arranging guide

So maybe you don’t want to peruse the multitude of articles right now, and you just want fast and easy directions of how to do an a cappella arrangement. Will do, but here’s the caveat- this is just one way of going about an arrangement. I would recommend reading the other articles on this website […]

Elvis Sings Amazing Grace

Pretty stellar stuff here — gospel with Elvis.  His roots were deep in the gospel tradition, and his success was largely due to his ability to sing in “black” styles while being socially acceptable to the white audience of the day.  Race has defined America in so many ways; this recording is well-suited to meditate […]

Arranging for Co-ed groups, Introduction

If you’re lucky enough to scrabble together a handful of boys and girls to hold productive rehearsals amidst incredible sexual tension, creating unique and engaging arrangements are going to be a piece of cake. Co-ed groups not only have the advantages of a ready pool of datable singers, but the vocal range and palette of […]

SmarterGuide: The art of song selection

Song selection is tricky business. It might not make or break your group, and each individual song choice might not matter that much, but a group’s audience and reputation are largely determined by the catalog of music they present. So before you decide on your group’s lineup for the year, or the semester, mull over your priorities.

“Runnin’ With The Devil” Soundboard and Vocal Track

If you don’t already know, the first track on Van Halen’s first album features a thrilling vocal performance by lead singer David Lee Roth. In fact, the first sound you hear from David Lee Roth in the entire Van Halen catalog is his opening multi-tonal wailing in “Runnin’ With the Devil.” Through the good fortune […]

Al Franken as Mick Jagger

This one has been making the rounds recently and is not to be missed: If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it’s missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe. What a fantastically talented guy — comedian, singer, author, asshole.  And now, Senator!