The completely accurate history of A cappella music
April 1, 2013
It’s time for a history lesson. Let’s look at how a cappella music was born:
A cappella, as we all know, means “in the style of the hat.” That’s why it starts with the proclamation “a cap.”
Somewhere around the era of cavemen, it was common to see homosapiens attempting to wear rocks on their head as a fashion statement. This would often lead to rocks falling off their heads and landing on their bare feet, in which at that time, cavemen and cavewomen would shout “AHHH.”
Harmony was invented when a quartet of four cavemen all had their feet crushed by “hat-rocks” at the same time. They shouted “AHH” in four different tones and harmony was born. In a complete coincidence, one caveman shouted his “AHH” longer than the other three. This was how Barbershop tags were born.
Fast forward to the Medieval age. A man named Gregory the Chanter thought he could use the invention of music to strengthen his relationship with the one true creator of the universe, some guy named Bob. The music he sang, which was later referred to as Gregory’s Chant and then, through the years, was misshapen and transformed into Gregorian Chant, passed throughout the world until it came upon the McFerrin clan of Scotland.
Fast forward nine hundred years later. A talented singer, Melvin McSnootypants, discovered this history. Eager to market himself in the music business, he adopted the stage name Bobby McFerrin, and the rest is history.
It wasn’t until the 1980’s that a cappella gained a foothold in pop culture. On the popular children’s television show,” Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego,” which the popular video game was later based on, the studio a cappella group, Rockapella, scored a number one hit with their song, “The Warrant,” which they sang every time a contestant found the “warrant” hidden under a tile. Even though the song was only one second long, the complex harmony of a major chord rung throughout the music-loving community. A cappella had become a star.
Soon, college campuses across the nation suddenly filled themselves with the desire to sing this “major chord.” Over time, the single major chord became boring and stale, and other chords were discovered.
This brings me to instruments. It is a commonly held belief that a cappella is best performed without instruments. This is simply not true. The technique of beatboxing, or “banging out a beat on a cardboard box” is still used today by many a cappella groups.
College campuses were developing a cappella groups left and right, but they still had no way of connecting across state lines. A new organization was founded around the same time, CASA, which stood for the "Caring and Adoration of Small Aardvarks." This group saw the immediate potential of a cappella music as yet another way to spread their message of love and peace for all Aardvark-kind. They invented a form of communication called the “internet,” which allowed a cappella groups to talk to each other over the computer. Unfortunately, the “internet” did not become a huge success and a cappella groups had to start relying on “cell phones” to videotape themselves.
In 2009, a cappella hit an even bigger milestone, with the introduction of a television show called “The Nick Lachey Variety Hour.” This program brought a cappella groups, and cardboard box-hitters, or “beatboxers” into viewers’ homes. The show was a complete success, and is still broadcast to this day, with absolutely no premature cancellations.
It is still unknown where a cappella will be in 10, 20, or even 30 years. Some say the hottest a cappella groups today, the “Pentagrams” and “Straight Without Some Kind of Chaser,” will continue to be as popular as they are now. Only time will tell.