Remember how the pitch-perfect harmonies of the Barden Bellas stormed the audience with their aca-awesome performance short of nothing but more?
A Cappella (pronounced aah-kuh-pell-uh) is an Italian word meaning “in the style of the church”.
A cappella owes its genesis to initial days of Christianity when hymns were sung in churches without instrumental accompaniment, the chorus using their voices to emulate instruments. What was originally an attribute of the orthodox churches has now reserved a separate genre inspiring more and more people to dismiss the mainstream.
A cappella involves coming together of vocalists, beatboxers, do-whoppers, mm-boppers to compose what is a rich blend of passion and creativity. This new category of music has gained audience far and wide, from open jams at parks and warehouses to a cappella sing-offs in schools and colleges, stage performances, and fests and today a notch higher, on TEDx and music charts.
With Glee’s debut on Indian television three years ago, followed by Pitch Perfect, a cappella was introduced on the silver screen, celebrating creative expression of music.
Here are some jaw dropping home-grown a cappella groups catapulting music to another pedestal.
Voctronica is a six-member ensemble based in Mumbai. Avinash Tewari, Raj Verma, Arjun Nair, Warsha Easwar, Meghana Bogle and Clyde Rodrigues came together in the year 2011 to form what they call India’s first all-vocal orchestra that consists of beatboxers, Indian vocalists, western vocalists etc. Raj and Avinash do the beats, Arjun does the vocal base and sings and Clyde, Warsha and Meghana take turns to sing. The sextet takes pride in their rapport and team spirit. Their Facebook description ‘No instruments. No kidding’ is as promising as the chorus itself.
Voctronica’s amazing cover on Alt J’s ‘Fitzpleasure’ won accolades from every quarter on the internet and will leave you completely smitten.
They have not only adorned the concept of creating music non-instrumentally but also embraced everything from classical Hindi hits to dubstep. Their cover on Ed Sheeran’s ‘Sing’ and a tribute to classic Indian ads with AIB have invited lakhs of public views.
“Rebirth of covers with A cappella at its forefront and their electrifying live experience,” is what made Sridhar Subramaniam of Sony Music want to adopt Voctronica.
The repertoire of the group together with the raw rearrangement of songs does the trick for keeping the audience glued to their performance. The diversity of their a cappella pieces is what sets this team apart.
For some, a cappella is simply about “reinforcing good vibes of doing things together” says French artiste Antoine Redon who founded the 15-member Vocal Raasta in Delhi a year ago. Asane Poumai, Judith Albuquerque, Radhika Saxena, Swati Bhatt, Sparsh Bajpai, Angarika Deb, Anuja Thirani, Sneha Sachar,Sukriti Sharma, Tongti Aman(Altos), Aman Negi, Ujjwal Dubey (Tenors), Antoine Redon, Rodrick Anthony, Stephen Son (Basses) are the members of this newbie on the list of Indian a cappella groups.
They have done about 16 performances like the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, Sounds of Freedom, Mahindra Excellence in Theater Awards, Vayu Yoga evening and perform extensively in streets, malls and open spaces aiming to reach the audience from all walks of life. Vocal Raasta has put up several performances and shows in Delhi also. The group has delivered many original compositions also like “Freedom”, “Love”, “Respect”. Here is a link to their original rendition, ‘love’.
RaagaTrippin’ is a six-member vocal ensemble comprising Alan De Souza, Gary Misquitta, Gwen Dias, Keshia Braganza, Leon De Souza, Suzanne D’Mello and Thomson Andrews, that specializes in remixing and recreating famous Bollywood numbers. From originals to soulful covers, making music across languages and genres, RaagaTrippin’ is known to be India’s first Bollywood a cappella group.
The refreshing camaraderie of the group adds to their energy. They have explored genres like Jazz when they performed at the International Jazz Festival this year alongside Louis Bank.
Their cover of Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About That Bass’ is a must-watch.
‘Aflatoon’ is an Urdu word meaning eccentric, curious, multi-tasking, all of which is reflected in this group’s music. This eight member a cappella and beatboxing group is the brainchild of beatboxer, Navarun Roy with his friend Anish Nair. They’ve performed at several music festivals and venues including the Rolling Stone Stage with other upcoming artists. Their cover of ‘Sar Jo Tera Chakraye’ is an absolute ear-candy experience. The chemistry among the group is aca-mmendable that makes you love it.
A cappella is witnessing a renaissance and among the innumerable fusion bands these groups are a rare gem. Though it is challenging, it has been accepted with open arms by budding talents in India, bringing to the fore this novel art, heralding a uniquely new music culture. There are also many other regional a cappella groups in India rising to fame, delivering melody sans instruments and music sans flaw.
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.