great time at the show

The singing groups special went quite well, thank you. (Even with having to use the guest mic for nearly the whole show.)

I was thinking about how I was tiring of the “contemporary” acappella groups — the ones patterned on Rockapella and then infused with boy-band slickness and a sort-of-jazzish calculated cool. What could they do to make a sound that had inventiveness, soul, guts? My show, oddly enough, held part of an answer; it had all sorts of great sounds in it. The “contemp” groups, well…. they don’t. They haven’t put these sounds to use. Do they know how to do it? I would guess they know how to do some of it. But the point comes in a song where you could really use, say, a sharp Beach Boys or Crosby Stills Nash or Delfonics harmonic, or a lead that really ran with the song’s end like Phillippe Wynne of the Spinners, or a bass who talks it through like Hoppy Jones of the Ink Spots. Or maybe sharing leads with the precision of the Temptations, perhaps, or they could add a touch of Celtic or Dalmatian voicings, maybe even a burst of Bulgarian choir or Black Mambazo if they have enough singers. But when the time comes … it passes….

I’m well aware that no group can do all those sounds well, but any of them can draw on more of them than they use now. The harmonics, leads, lyrics, and feel are different for each, but lessons can be learned from all of it, and having these modes in your arsenal means it’s there when the song or the live moment calls for it.

Their palettes are just too skimpy. (Just one part of the puzzle, but an important one, I think.)


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