Singing Contest Uses No Musical Instruments

December 14, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
1. showcase (v.) [shoh-keys] – to show, present or display
     Example: Her role in the play showcases her singing skills.

2. vocal (adj.) [voh-kuhl] – pertaining to the singing voice
     Example: Her impressive vocal ability made her famous.
3. pull off (v. phrase) [pool-awf, -of] – to perform successfully, especially one that requires courage and strong will
     Example: He pulled off a good presentation despite his lack of preparation.

4. genre (n.) [zhahn-ruh; Fr. zhahn-ruh] – a kind or category of an artistic work
     Example: Science fiction is a popular movie genre.

5. superb (adj.) [soo-purb , suh-] – admirably excellent or extremely good
     Example: He won an award for his superb performance.

Read the text below.

American television reality show "The Sing-Off" brings a capella singing to a larger stage.

The program showcases the talents of vocal groups who sing without musical accompaniments. These singers use nothing but their voices, teeth and tongues to produce music.

A capella singing which literally means "in church style" in Italian— started when churches prohibited musical instruments during religious services. Its use eventually evolved to different genres of music.

According to experts, pulling off an a capella performance requires not only talent but also athletic skills.

Dr. Thomas Carroll, a voice specialist from Tufts Medical Center in Boston, explains how superb breathing techniques—like those needed to run a marathon—help singers mimic instruments, especially the drums.

On the other hand, voice professor Jodi Jenkins from Berklee School of Music says a strong sense of rhythm and hearing keeps a good a capella group in tune and in the right timing.

In terms of group composition, both Caroll and Jenkins agree that having members with varying voice types and quality is a huge advantage. However, a group with numerous members would not fair much if they lose harmony. Talent, according Jenkins, remains the bottom line. 

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
Discussion A

·      Do you think people are born with great vocal talent or do you think vocal ability can be learned through proper training? Explain your answer.
·         Do you enjoy singing? Explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         What do you think about a capella groups?
·         Do you think all popular musical artists can really sing well?

December 14, 2011