A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangements?

In “theory”, you could “arrange” to have your discussions here.

A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangements?

Postby jds516 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:21 pm

Does anyone out there have a handle on how common it is for a cappella groups to put together arrangements "by ear" without a score, as opposed to learning arrangements by using a "written score"? I am especially interested in groups that arrange and/or learn arrangements "By Ear".

I know one professional group, SIX, that has only used a handful of written arrangements written by others over the years, as opposed to having arranged most of their music as a collaborative group by ear. I am just wondering how common this is. Can anyone shed light on this and perhaps give me names of other groups who mostly "learn by ear"?

Having recently viewed ALL THREE SEASONS of Sing Off!, I noted that many groups had evidence of using written arrangements, but a few perhaps didn't.

Thanks so much!

Jonathan Stewart

jds516
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangement

Postby kristineslipson » Sat Sep 14, 2013 3:45 pm

My group does a combination of both, so it's different for every song.
(I love SIX, by the way!! I've been following them since their SoCal days as The Knudsen Brothers.)

Scenic Root has done multiple group arrangements which were created on the fly without necessarily writing anything down. After the arrangement is mostly solidified, I usually record takes on my phone and maybe writing some things on paper to make sure we don't forget what we just created.

For our very first group arrangement, we did Daylight by Maroon 5.

I had written out the very beginning on the computer to give them somewhere to start. From there, we listened to the original and as many versions of it as we could find on YouTube- instrumental/karaoke versions, live versions, and even some covers or other a cappella groups. We discussed what we liked and didn't like, and whether we were going to change any part of the sequence. After that, we sang along to the original over and over and over and over. We soon grew confident enough in our parts that we would often fall out of phase with the recording because we were so loud. The training wheels came off, and we were singing our very first arrangement by ourselves! We did end up altering the original sequence by cutting straight to the second verse instead of doing the entire chorus. As far as what everyone is actually singing, that's hard to explain how we came up with that. If I have a vague idea of what I want it to sound like, I'll explain it to the group and I let them come up with their version of it and then we tailor it down to the best of that version. My group knows who's on lead, alto, tenor, baritone, bass for each given song, and we make sure all the notes in the chord are there when necessary. Most of the time, they pick out their part in the chord all on their own and we only need to make small adjustments. It's really cool to see that many musicians come up with something as individuals yet as a group at the same time!

As far as what took place on The Sing-Off, I'm no expert but I know that a combination of things happened, depending on the group. Some of the groups have one member that usually does the arrangements, while others work more as a team either with each other and/or with the staff arrangers, and there are some that mostly relied on the staff arrangers to write it out. Since they were learning new songs at such a fast pace, it's likely that many things were learned by ear rather than taking the time to write them down (especially if the group came up with it on their own).

I hope that helps!
Scenic Root (Director, VP) '13-today
Voxel Rox (Sop) '11-'13
The Lounge Lizards at UC Davis (Sop) '07-'10
kristineslipson
 
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:56 pm

Re: A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangement

Postby jds516 » Sat Sep 14, 2013 4:18 pm

Thank you so much for your detailed reply. I would love to hear your group. I would also interested in discussing how your group has advanced in ability to create arrangements by ear, what the general musical background of your members are, and the groups attitude toward "by ear" rather than "by score". I looked your group up on the internet and found a picture. 8 members, correct?

I have my own group at Oklahoma Wesleyan University called Relentless and I modeled our group on the methods I have seen used by SIX. Mine is a 9 member group, very similar in size and make up to your own. Interesting that you indicated that on Sing Off! they might have learned many things by ear because of lack of time. In my group, I found it is faster to learn with a written score, because then everyone is clear as to what they are singing. With the recording, I have some that are keen to find a part in their range that works and others really are waiting for someone to tell them what part to sing. Last year yielded some great results as we came up with four original "by ear" arrangements; Jesus Culture Medley, Be Thou My Vision by Ascend the Hill, White Christmas as sung by Michael Buble and Stand By Me as sung by Straight No Chaser. The arrangement that went the quickest was I'm Yours by Jason Mraz and arranged by Deke Sharon. Although we adapted this arrangement, it came along rather quickly. I attribute that to our use of a score. However, last year was the beginning of an experiment you might say, so learning arrangements by ear using recordings was new to everyone. By the end of the year, all felt much more comfortable with this model.

Thanks again for responding. If you would like to reply directly via e-mail, my address is jonathanstewart_online@yahoo.com. Also, if you know of others, I would love to hear from them also. Thus far, you are only the second person I have heard from (one second hand via e-mail) who has done a collaborative type arrangement with their contemporary a cappella group.

Sincerely, Jonathan

Jonathan Stewart

jds516
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangement

Postby kristineslipson » Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:37 pm

www.facebook.com/scenicrootoc

Yes, that's us! I just started Scenic Root this year, so I'm not sure we have "advanced" much with group arrangements in that time- although the process has gotten much faster. Since SR is a casual group, hardly any of its members are full time musicians. Some have been in choirs, barbershop choruses, or other a cappella groups in the past.

I think I can speak for the group in saying that it's very rewarding to do a group arrangement. There's a real sense of accomplishment and unity that comes with it. I do write out some arrangements completely by myself for the group to learn, but it's really a lot of fun to collaborate with the group and include everyone in the process.

I mentioned the time crunch on TSO because it's not just the time they had to learn the song (I agree that it's easy to read a chart and memorize it), but they also just then learned what song they were singing and had to immediately come up with an arrangement. They usually had less than a week, start to finish. So, some groups were likely arranging and learning the song at the same time, which likely made it pointless to bother writing it out on Finale or the equivalent. Again, I wasn't on the show, but that's my knowledge of it as heard from various contestants and staff members.
Scenic Root (Director, VP) '13-today
Voxel Rox (Sop) '11-'13
The Lounge Lizards at UC Davis (Sop) '07-'10
kristineslipson
 
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:56 pm

Re: A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangement

Postby jds516 » Sat Sep 14, 2013 8:02 pm

Forming Scenic Root sounds very exciting! I am gratified to hear of your collaborative arrangements. Doing the collaborative arrangements does seem to build comradery of sorts. My group truly did feel a sense of accomplishment when all was said and done. For my situation, I get a lot of students with fairly developed ear skills, but underdeveloped music reading skills. My contemporary a cappella group, focusing on collaborative arranging, gives those with exceptionally developed ear skills a chance to really shine. Sometimes, it is mostly a challenge for me, as I am a formally trained choral conductor, so relying only upon my ears is a bit disconcerting.

I see what you mean in your comments about the Sing Off! One advantage to collaborative arrangements, is they require so much from each member up front, that once the arrangement is created, it is also memorized. The memory can seem to come slower using written arrangements in my experience. Upon observing SIX, I often saw the great effort put up front, but often within 2 or 3 rehearsals, they had a piece that was nearly performance ready (well, musically, not with choreography). I can see this being an advantage on the Sing Off!

Last year, my group Relentless went to the A Cappella Celebration in San Antonio. We were given "The Most Inspiring Arrangement" award, as we were the ONLY group to have arranged our repertoire collaboratively by ear. It was that experience, and the observations of Sing Off! that made me start wondering again just how unusual that mode of arranging might be.

How many hours per week do you practice and how much repertoire do you currently have prepared in your group's very short life?

Again, thanks! Jonathan

Jonathan Stewart

jds516
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangement

Postby kristineslipson » Sat Sep 14, 2013 8:14 pm

Scenic Root rehearses once a week for two hours- that's it! Like I said, we are a casual group.

We currently have a very short list- only 4 songs have been performed in front of an audience. Only one of those four was a pre-existing chart. The rest are all group arrangements. We just started on a medley that I arranged which will take some time to learn, and we have a few other songs in the works.
Scenic Root (Director, VP) '13-today
Voxel Rox (Sop) '11-'13
The Lounge Lizards at UC Davis (Sop) '07-'10
kristineslipson
 
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:56 pm

Re: A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangement

Postby jds516 » Sat Sep 14, 2013 8:35 pm

Excellent! Thanks so much for answering my questions. Your group is very, very similar to mine. We only rehearse just under 3 hours a week as part of my "contemporary ensemble" class. Last year, for the fall and spring semesters, only had 5 performable pieces and one was Christmas. So, for our spring concert, we had 4 pieces we performed with choreography (not my strong suit). Michael Eldredge at the A Cappella Celebration worked with my group and made a night and day difference in us being able to create effect choreography. I was very pleased with the final outcome of my Spring Concert and then a couple of other "gigs" toward the end of the academic year.

My group has been at it about three weeks thus far. What you are reporting in terms of how long it takes to put together music (collaborative and notated) with limited rehearsal is very encouraging to me.

Thank you so much! I would like to stay in touch and the best to you and your new group!!!

Jonathan

P.S. Do you do arrangements for pay? Would I send that request through Gig Salad? JS

Jonathan Stewart

jds516
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangement

Postby kristineslipson » Sat Sep 14, 2013 8:42 pm

You're welcome!

I'm glad Michael was able to help you guys out- he's a great resource, and a wonderful person.

I'd be happy to arrange something for you! Shoot me an email: kristinekreations [at] g mail [dot] com.
Scenic Root (Director, VP) '13-today
Voxel Rox (Sop) '11-'13
The Lounge Lizards at UC Davis (Sop) '07-'10
kristineslipson
 
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:56 pm

Re: A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangement

Postby jds516 » Sat Sep 14, 2013 8:53 pm

Thanks so much! JS

Jonathan Stewart

jds516
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangement

Postby vandre » Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:33 pm

vandre
 
Posts: 166453
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:40 am

Re: A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangement

Postby vandre » Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:34 pm

vandre
 
Posts: 166453
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:40 am

Re: A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangement

Postby vandre » Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:35 pm

vandre
 
Posts: 166453
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:40 am

Re: A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangement

Postby vandre » Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:36 pm

vandre
 
Posts: 166453
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:40 am

Re: A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangement

Postby vandre » Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:36 pm

vandre
 
Posts: 166453
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:40 am

Re: A Cappella - By Ear Collaboration or Written Arrangement

Postby vandre » Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:37 pm

vandre
 
Posts: 166453
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:40 am

Next

Return to Vocal Music

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron