What is A Cappella?

Wait… Is it “a cappella”, “a capella”, or “a capela”?
There are various spellings of the term. The original spelling is “a cappella”, with a double ‘p’ and a double ‘l’. However, an alternative spelling, “acapella” is also popularly used, and generally accepted (except by some “purists”, who insist on the original spelling).

Here at D-ACA.org, we prefer the former spelling, and here’s a poem to help you remember it!

A Cappella
“A Cappella” is a phrase
Difficult to spell,
When confused, just remember!
Double ‘P’, double ‘L’.

(P.S. Don’t worry if you can’t spell it our way, if you are used to spelling it another way. It’s our pet peeve, but we’ll accept you all the same. After all, a cappella is really about the music, not the spelling of the term.)

Okay… so what is a cappella?
A Cappella is a musical style that involves making music without any instruments or backing tracks, and only the singers’ voices. Having a rich history, a cappella music spans many genres. Contemporary a cappella music usually involves the mimicking of instrument sounds.

What does “a cappella” mean?
The phrase “a cappella” is Italian in origin, and literally means “in the manner of the chapel”, or “chapel-style”. It refers to music performed without instrumental accompaniment.

So… Why a cappella and not other styles of music?
While contemporary a cappella has existed for a long time, mainstream interest in a cappella as a style of music has spiked in recent years, thanks to the influence of popular mainstream media, The Sing Off competition series, Grammy award-winning a cappella group and global sensation Pentatonix, and the hit movie series, Pitch Perfect.

But beyond the hype, making a cappella music is a great way for people to connect by making music together with their voices. As a cappella music is made with voices rather than instruments, it also allows for greater flexibility of tuning. With the rise of audio technology such as synthesizers and loop pedals, a cappella musicians have a greater gamut of possibilities to explore.

Last but not least, seriously, a cappella is cool (albeit a bit geeky). Being able to create music without instruments definitely turns heads.