BC Sharps

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BC Sharps

Postby jsdiamant » Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:27 am

Eek. 1.0. Has that ever happened before?

Joshua S. Diamant RARB '02-'05

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Postby mcbc » Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:20 am

N.0.

(But there are lessons to be learned for everyone. I'll leave that to the more verbose. At least in my day, the Sharps weren't a bad group, certainly not 1.0 status and had a few competition awards as well. Kudos however to the reviewers for having true constructive and actionable criticism w/o getting into a snark fest.)
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Postby michaelsaunders77 » Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:43 pm

Ransom Notes is so far behind the a cappella learning curve that comparing this album to the a cappella of today is like comparing Off the Beat and The King's Singers.


Wait a minute. Is Trendler taking a shot at the King's Singers or OTB? Can he seriously be implying that the originators of the modern a cappella style are "so far behind the curve"? The King's Singers remain one of the most technically-proficient, successful, and well-regarded vocal ensembles in the world.
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Postby jsdiamant » Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:32 pm

I think Trendler was simply making an apples-to-oranges sort of statement. I don't read his review as any sort of insult to the King's Singers.

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Postby dherriges » Tue Apr 07, 2009 10:22 pm

jdiamant wrote:I think Trendler was simply making an apples-to-oranges sort of statement. I don't read his review as any sort of insult to the King's Singers.


You're probably right, but I remember I also had an initial "Wait... huh??" moment reading that review. An odd/confusing choice of analogy, at the very least.
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Postby kevin47 » Sun Apr 12, 2009 7:28 am

Any group that is 40 years old AND universally familiar to a contemporary audience will almost certainly have technical merit. The analogy seems reasonable is it pertains to innovation.
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Postby michaelsaunders77 » Sun Apr 19, 2009 2:49 pm

kevin47 wrote:Any group that is 40 years old AND universally familiar to a contemporary audience will almost certainly have technical merit. The analogy seems reasonable is it pertains to innovation.


Are you saying that OTB is more innovative than the King's Singers?
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Postby Mnemosyne » Sun Apr 19, 2009 8:05 pm

Koojealion wrote:Are you saying that OTB is more innovative than the King's Singers?

That's sort of a loaded question. Either way you answer, you're insulting someone, and no one's out to do that. Off The Beat has done some really innovative things for pop/rock/alt. a cappella, while the King's Singers have done more for the classical, traditionally-choral style than many if not most other groups.

Again, it's really an apples-to-oranges situation, kind of like asking whether Eric Whitacre or McCoy Tyner is a more "innovative" musician. I feel like we're more in an ethnomusicological debate here than a "who's better than whom?" situation. It's not a comparison of proficiency or talent or innovation, just stylistically different music.

(also, the way you're phrasing your questions seems kind of aggressive. chill, dude)
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Postby soundslikedrums » Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:03 pm

Koojealion wrote:Are you saying that OTB is more innovative than the King's Singers?


If he's not, I'll do it.

The King's Singers are very talented. That is not the same thing as being innovative, especially by the standards of, as you have said, "modern a cappella". They are very, very good at what they do. It's just that innovation is not a particularly significant component of their M.O. They sing music that is centuries old. They sing choral scores by contemporary writers. They sing pop music in a style reminiscent of college groups a half century ago branching out from Broadway standards to the Beatles for the first time. They do all of this brilliantly. None of it is groundbreaking. (This includes the new works they commission, which may or may not be innovative on the parts of their respective composers, but can't rightly be considered innovative on the part of the ensemble.)

As far as them being "the originators of the modern a cappella style": for all their talents, the LAST thing their style accurately can be called is "modern a cappella". There's no shame in that. They're hardly trying to be the Jacks or the Harmonics, and when you've been around as long as the King's Singers, you certainly don't have any obligation to bend to the latest vogues in production/arranging/general style. But at the same time, it's inaccurate to label their work "modern" in a genre that has already put nearly a decade behind it since Kickshaw and spiralmouth.

There may have been a time when the King's Singers were, indeed, breaking new ground in what was at that time "modern a cappella". This is not that time. Being innovative in one decade does not guarantee the same status in decades to come, and I think it's safe to say that not a few others have evolved more quickly than the King's Singers in terms of staying "ahead of the curve" (or at least contemporaneous with it). And perhaps that's the real issue - not so much whether one group or another is breaking new ground in the present day (certainly both have in the past), but which group better illustrates the "cutting edge", if you will, in a cappella. In this case, I don't think there's much argument but that it's OTB.

In a nutshell: labeling the King's Singers as less innovative than others in today's a cappella is not necessarily pejorative - I'd contend that it's an accurate description of a group that has earned the latitude to keep doing things the way it has done for forty years, with little modification but much success.

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Postby colton » Mon Apr 20, 2009 3:44 pm

The might not use a lot of production gimmicks, they don't do VP, and they might not specialize in pop music, but the King's Singers are absolutely innovative. Here's some evidence: http://www.a-cappella.com/category/king ... heet_music
Just over three pages of listings. And notice that about a third of them are collections! How many other groups have published that many original arrangements?? I cannot think of a single one.

I think I said in a post a few months back that Always A Woman off their Simple Gifts album should be required listening for all current a cappella arrangers. I still hold that opinion. (Have you heard Simple Gifts? Won a 2008 Grammy award for "Best Classical Crossover Album", whatever that means.)

Not all of their albums have been innovative, but a lot of them have. And when I've heard them in person, they have done some very avant-garde stuff that practically no other a cappella groups would touch.
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Postby soundslikedrums » Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:00 pm

colton wrote:Just over three pages of listings. And notice that about a third of them are collections! How many other groups have published that many original arrangements?? I cannot think of a single one.


Being published often has to do with being accessible, which could even be grounds for arguing an inverse relationship between "published" and "innovative". I wouldn't go quite that far - I'd argue that there's simply no relationship at all. The fact that their arrangements (which I'm not disparaging) are published is not the least shred of evidence that said arrangements are innovative. It is merely evidence that someone thought there was money to be made from making the scores widely available - and the music industry in general should be ample illustration that that notion is no guarantee of an innovative product.
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Postby colton » Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:51 pm

Would you consider any choral-minded a cappella groups to be innovative? If not the King's Singers, then who?
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Postby Mnemosyne » Mon Apr 20, 2009 10:54 pm

colton wrote:Would you consider any choral-minded a cappella groups to be innovative? If not the King's Singers, then who?

Certainly. The Ghost Files immediately come to mind. Granted, a lot of their material draws on Whitacre, Lauridsen, and others, but they do it in a new and interesting way. "New and interesting" - that sounds like at least a good broad partial criterion for being called "innovative."
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Postby rebecca » Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:11 am

Not to go all Bill Hare on you, but -- the reason the King's Singers sound so mainstream now is because they influenced absolutely everybody. It's just like the Beatles. In fact, they even use some of the same material. Lollipops? Hello.

You could say that it's been 15+ years since the King's Singers broke new ground on the pop front, but that doesn't take away from their innovation when they did it, any more than OTB's latest jen-jo-joh-no arrangement cheapens their creative leap in the 1990s.

Further, the King's Singers continually commission new music from around the world, complete with composers in residence and a regular schedule of world premieres.

So don't knock the King's Singers just because you can't imagine a world without them.
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Postby soundslikedrums » Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:43 am

Yep - that's exactly my point. I'm not commenting on whether KS were innovative/groundbreaking/etc years ago (of course they were), but rather on whether they are now - which I don't believe that they are. That notwithstanding, I'm very glad that we have them around, doing exactly what they're doing.

I'd make the same point about OTB - while OTB sounds more "now" than KS, I'm in the camp that would like them to move beyond "zhin zho", and sooner rather than later. But each of those groups can proudly say that they pushed the envelope at some point in the history of the genre (even if that point in history was some years ago), and they've earned every bit of the recognition and acclaim given them on that account.

All I'm saying is that the wonderful music made by the King's Singers - of whom I have said zero negative things in this thread - is not consistent with the terms "innovative" or "modern" as I understand those terms to apply to a cappella music in 2009. And, based on the depth of talent they possess and the broad chasm between their work and what I recognize as "modern a cappella", I suspect that - as is the case with many of the Ivy League groups, who eschew a "modern" sound for a more traditional one - that difference is entirely by design.

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