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A cappella

Vocal music or singing without instrumental accompaniment, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. The term is Italian for “like the chapel” (music); and originated as a result of restrictions on the use of instruments in medieval churches. It is sometimes spelled as a capella, or acappella, though a cappella is historically correct.

A cappella music was and is often used in church music. Gregorian chant is an example of a cappella singing, as is the majority of sacred vocal music from the Renaissance. Many religious bodies are known for conducting their worship services without musical accompaniment.

A cappella music attained renewed prominence in the 1980s and 1990s, spurred by the success of songs by popular recording artists such as Bobby McFerrin, the Nylons, Rockapella and Boyz II Men. Barbershop, doo wop, and contemporary a cappella are some of the major movements within modern a cappella singing.

Arrangements of popular music for small a cappella ensembles usually include one voice singing the lead melody, one singing a rhythmic bass line, and the remaining voices contributing chordal accompaniment. However, many contemporary a cappella groups have adopted other approaches, including polyphonic treatments and “human beatbox” effects. A cappella can also describe the practice of using just the vocal track(s) from a multitrack recording to either remix or put onto vinyl records for DJ’s.

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