"Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A CAPPELLA Glo

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Do you think Mickey Rapkin does a good job of portraying the a cappella world in his book, "Pitch Perfect"?

Yes
15
56%
No
12
44%
 
Total votes : 27

Postby vkolko » Wed Jun 04, 2008 5:33 am

I should have pre-ordered the book long ago, but I'm sad to say I just placed my order this morning. Having known Mickey for a number of years now, I'd just like to say that I am certain that he has done everything to uphold the integrity of his writing.

Can't wait to start peeling through it!
Val
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Postby dgooding » Mon Jun 09, 2008 5:33 am

bstevens wrote:The book helps me to realize that what I _do_ want to read _is_ precisely a survey, a summary, a history, an ethnography of contemporary a cappella music, one less interested in telling a good story than in telling the whole story. (Joshua Duchan, care to collaborate?) I want to read more about what actually has taken place within the community, and much, much less about the consistently stupid, gee-whiz reactions of uninformed media flacks, not to mention the evidently unresolved issues of those celebrities who downplay their ... 'a cappella history' (!). Celebrity ex-singers may bring in the browsers but, in terms of actual importance, are the smallest of small change.


More or less, that's what my goal is with Entrepreneurs in Song.

Don Gooding
www.ac100.org[/i]
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Postby dekesharon » Tue Jun 10, 2008 4:40 am

Just got home - browsed the book.

DEEPLY flattered to have so much written about me, and have chunks of my past in book form.

Also, deeply relieved to know that at some point I must have regained control of my limbs ;)

I think some words were chosen more to make an interesting story than because they were the most appropriate adjective (CASA board = nefarious? Even his subsequent writing about the board doesn't support that moniker at all), but I understand he's not writing a history so much as tagging down on interesting moments and looking for drama.

There are also errors here and there, but I don't think they were intentional (that I can tell). It has to be hard to be essentially the first person to write about any of this; translating oral history to the written word is a difficult job of sifting perspectives and knowing who to trust.

To that end, I think he gave Don Gooding a far harder time than he deserves (even if he was in a number of legal wranglings with people), as it doesn't outline the fantastic, enormous contributions of time, money, and creativity Don has given our community. To say college a cappella is different and better as a result of his input is an understatement.

And Jonathan Minkoff is also portrayed inappropriately. I didn't agree with him at times on the CASA board (and that's no secret), but to have the sum total of his appearances in the book be negative is terribly unfortunate, and doesn't reflect the enormous contributions he too has made to a cappella over the past decade.

Frankly, the contributions of both of them deserve their own chapter in the book. And there are others who have given much that aren't even mentioned. As Ben says, this isn't a comprehensive history as much as a loose-brushed overview.

I also think there's an unhealthy obsession with what's cool and what isn't. It's as if that's a crucial perspective from which to view or judge anything and everything. Why does it matter so much if it's cool? And, taking the subject of people singing post-college, who cares? People like to sing, and they should. Not everything has to be cool. I think this is a limitation of having the person who writes the book be a senior editor at GQ; he sees the world with a far greater concern toward what's cool than most people.

Baltic folk dancing isn't cool, and yet if someone wrote a book about it focusing so much on coolness it would seem strange and inappropriate.

The one underlying question I have is "how interesting is this to someone who knows nothing about the college a cappella scene?" A movie, TV show, even recording/podcast is able to show instead of tell, but the written word (with a few photos) is at a fundamental disadvantage. I hope people who have no contact go search it out (your web site helps, as do others).

But for me and the a cappella community, I think it's a very interesting read, if incomplete and incorrect in places (e.g. I wasn't in NYC when Divisi came in 2nd). This is something important to know whenever you're reading - authors make mistakes, and perspectives are incomplete - and the message is brought home clearly when you're reading about things you personally experienced and people you know.

And, as you know, I'm hoping this book is a catalyst to an ongoing chain reaction of interest in collegiate a cappella (and beyond). We'll see!

- Deke Sharon • 800.579.9305 • http://www.dekesharon.com

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Postby dekesharon » Tue Jun 10, 2008 5:17 am

P.S. I told Mickey all this as well, as he's no longer reading RARB

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Postby dekesharon » Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:20 am

One other thought, lest anyone overemphasize the importance of a negative word or passage:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Last edited by dekesharon on Tue Jun 10, 2008 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby H.F. » Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:52 am

DekeSharon wrote:P.S. I told Mickey all this as well, as he's no longer reading RARB


Seriously? Why? (like, is he now avoiding it on purpose?)
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Postby dekesharon » Tue Jun 10, 2008 12:44 pm

H.F. wrote:
DekeSharon wrote:P.S. I told Mickey all this as well, as he's no longer reading RARB


Seriously? Why? (like, is he now avoiding it on purpose?)


It may seem like the supreme irony, but in essence yes.

Some people don't like open forums. The Wild West, say anything you'd like nature of RARB (or its ilk). Frankly, I don't think most people like being on the receiving end of a RARB roast.

He did make some strong statements in his book (!), and you'd think he'd be interested to hear what people think. And he assures me he is - he's happy to have anyone email or call him - but he doesn't want to get embroiled in discussions and controversy here, or have anyone expect that a post here equals having contacted him with a comment, suggestion or correction.

Speaking of corrections, he's asked me to email him a list of anything in the book that I know to be wrong (like Rockapella was originally a quartet) so it can be corrected for the paperback edition and/or further re-printings of the hard cover edition, and imagonna.

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Postby lcmike » Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:28 pm

So I'm reading this book, and while I find it entertaining, I've found it to be highly sensationalized and somewhat melodramatic. From a personal standpoint, the Last Call/Hullabahoos "incident" is highly exaggerated. (There wasn't really a confrontation, and our interaction wasn't escalating towards a dispute. We did actually trade CD's - I know, because I was the one who traded them. I don't recall any angst. The West side story part is true, though...they were wearing black, and we were wearing White - it just kinda happened!)

I'm happy to see our little corner of the world get some light, but am disappointed to see it done in way that reeks of yellow journalism. I know it's better for sales, but it's just not fair to those who have been essentially defamed.

My question is to those involved - did you have any sort of understanding of the direction Rapkin was taking with his book when he was interviewing you?


-Mike
Last Call ('03-'07)
www.menoflastcall.com
Cornell University '07
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Postby H.F. » Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:24 am

DekeSharon wrote:
H.F. wrote:
DekeSharon wrote:P.S. I told Mickey all this as well, as he's no longer reading RARB


Seriously? Why? (like, is he now avoiding it on purpose?)


It may seem like the supreme irony, but in essence yes.

Some people don't like open forums. The Wild West, say anything you'd like nature of RARB (or its ilk). Frankly, I don't think most people like being on the receiving end of a RARB roast.

He did make some strong statements in his book (!), and you'd think he'd be interested to hear what people think. And he assures me he is - he's happy to have anyone email or call him - but he doesn't want to get embroiled in discussions and controversy here, or have anyone expect that a post here equals having contacted him with a comment, suggestion or correction.

Speaking of corrections, he's asked me to email him a list of anything in the book that I know to be wrong (like Rockapella was originally a quartet) so it can be corrected for the paperback edition and/or further re-printings of the hard cover edition, and imagonna.


Well, I can see the point re not having anyone expect that a post here equals a formal correction, etc. But I think it's mistake to essentially blackball his biggest opportunity for grassroots marketing, just b/c he made some mistakes (by omission, lack of research, or misunderstanding). Particularly when he's still sending out emails (as recently as yesterday) to us asking us to "help spread the word".

I'm gonna go ahead and call bullshit, re him not *reading* this forum. I know he has bigger fish to fry at the moment, while the iron is still warm, but I would bet money he's reading every word. Just doesn't want to have to reply.
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Postby H.F. » Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:31 am

BTW, I did finish the book and overall I found it pretty entertaining. It's definitely a "summer book", if you will, but I could definitely see the avg person enjoying it, and maybe some of them digging a little deeper into our scene as a result.
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Postby mcbc » Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:11 pm

I've only been able to catch the Divisi chapters, but I'll definitely finish the book some time this summer. Sorry but books seem so 1991 :) However I did see this on Current ...

http://current.com/items/89012257_a_cappella_gridiron

And seriously, I knew how the story ended and I was still a little verklempt. No lie. (Awww stupid judges ;) There are a lot of good stories in the world of collegiate a cappella, and a cappella in general, let the man tell 'em.

As far as the author, not reading the thread anymore I'm sure he'll be back. Call me an ol' softy, but right or wrong it's probably a wee bit tough to hear some of these things said about you and your work in open court. So yeah I'm sure he'll be back trolling if he's not already. Heck, I haven't seen HF and Mickey in the same room. Coincidence?
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Postby dekesharon » Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:44 pm

Hey! Don't blame me!

I was a judge at the Semis the year Divisi was in a three way clash with Noteworthy and Vocal Point. I think the book makes it clear, but can't stress enough how close the three groups were that year, all with their strengths and weaknesses in that show (which is why I think the 5 judges spread their first place votes 2-2-1 between 'em). Yes, as the book said, it took us almost an hour of pained consideration.

The reason I say "don't blame me" because I was the guy who picked Divisi, but it was a hard choice (and no, my vote was not swayed by the fact that Divisi had ordered an arrangement from me as the book mentions anymore than my vote for Vocalpoint or Noteworthy was swayed by my friendship with and respect for Dave Brown and Bob Ahlander). And I do believe that whichever of those groups won would take Lincoln Center (as Noteworthy handily did).

BTW - I was expecting a similar three way clash this year, and that's what we pretty much had until SoCal Vocals took it up a level. Never know what'll happen.

The happy ending? Have you HEARD Divisi's new album?!? HOLY CRIKEY! Me love it long time.

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Postby davecharliebrown » Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:18 pm

Still working my way through the book.

But let me just chime in here as someone who has been involved (at times, very personally) with the Noteworthy-Vocal Point-Divisi "clash." To be accurate, you should throw in Fermata Nowhere, Men's Octet, the Golden Overtones, and probably others. The reality is that all these groups learn from one another, copy one another, teach one another, and push each other to be better. They work really hard to impress each other too. Almost 100% of the time these groups are all friends. At the least, they're professional colleagues.

In my experience, despite the legitimate competition that exists among them, the reality is that there's a real sense of camaraderie and respect among them.

That's all I wanted to say. Back to reading my book.
--Dave Brown

Image

now: Mouth Off host | ICCA & CARA Judge

then: CASA president, CASAcademy director, CASA Bd of Directors | BYU Vocal Point | Noteworthy co-foun
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Postby billhare » Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:26 pm

mcbc wrote:http://current.com/items/89012257_a_cappella_gridiron

And seriously, I knew how the story ended and I was still a little verklempt. No lie. (Awww stupid judges ;)


Deke wrote:Hey! Don't blame me!


Actually, that video IS from this year, so it's your fault. ;-) Much as I love Divisi, SoCal VoCals DID bring it to the next level! Even the Divisi parents sitting next to me said "well, that's it" when SoCal VoCals walked offstage.

Deke wrote:I was a judge at the Semis the year Divisi was in a three way clash with Noteworthy and Vocal Point. I think the book makes it clear, but can't stress enough how close the three groups were that year, all with their strengths and weaknesses in that show (which is why I think the 5 judges spread their first place votes 2-2-1 between 'em). Yes, as the book said, it took us almost an hour of pained consideration.


I was one of those 5 too, and as the book says, I was "rife with conflict of interest" since Divisi are clients of mine. I was a last-minute replacement and had made my conflicts known ahead of time when I had bowed out of the original judging pool after DVC won their quarterfinals, reiterated when I was tapped the night before the Semis, but I also stated that I could and would be impartial if they couldn't find anyone else to fill in.

And that's what I did - I didn't penalize nor reward Divisi for being a COI, I just felt that Noteworthy "brought it" more that particular night - it could have been the other way on another night, but I definitely called it how *I* saw it! :-)

-B

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Postby divisigal » Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:49 pm

DaveCharlieBrown wrote: But let me just chime in here as someone who has been involved (at times, very personally) with the Noteworthy-Vocal Point-Divisi "clash." To be accurate, you should throw in Fermata Nowhere, Men's Octet, the Golden Overtones, and probably others. The reality is that all these groups learn from one another, copy one another, teach one another, and push each other to be better. They work really hard to impress each other too. Almost 100% of the time these groups are all friends. At the least, they're professional colleagues.

In my experience, despite the legitimate competition that exists among them, the reality is that there's a real sense of camaraderie and respect among them.


Here here! This is so true and I wish it would have been touched on a little more in the book because many groups in the West greatly influenced each other and that is why we constantly raise the bar every year!

I remember when Divisi was just starting out, UO's On the Rocks was flying in a member of Hyannis Sound (I believe) to help them with their choreography so they could beat the UC Men's Octet that year at Quarterfinals because the octet had taken choreo to a new level. That was the year we saw that Golden Overtones and thus became the true Divisi because of their female beat boxer and their great overall commanding presence. The year we took 3rd to Vocal Point and Fermata Nowhere at Semi's I remember specifically making it a point to see Fermata and I can honestly say that their "Hey Ya" inspired me to arrange Usher's "Yeah". It opened my eyes to the fact that we could do R&B and make it funny and be goofy and still be on point musically.
I still remember when Esther from BYU's Noteworthy came up to a few of us that year and said they were going to start a women's group at their school. (Although the book says something different), when I heard that Noteworthy had won at finals in NYC last year, I felt so excited for those women, knowing why they were there and that we had all been a part of each other's "aca-journeys."

Like Dave said, I believe we all have a great respect for each other and that's what made competeing so much fun!
Evynne Hollens
Founding member of UO's Divisi
Women's a cappella est. 2001
Group Member '01-'06
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