The Hydra

The Hydra is a mythical Greek serpent/water-beast. The Hydra's most distinguishing feature was its many heads…and its ability to regrow them when one head was chopped off. Chop off one head, three more sprout up. Ever see Disney’s “Hercules?” Kind of like that.

I like to think of a cappella as a Hydra. Not because I think the term a cappella is actually a mythical Greek serpent/water-beast, but because I think the process of "keeping up with a cappella trends" is like fighting a many-headed Hydra.

Imagine that listening to a new a cappella song is the equivalent to “chopping off a head.” Listen to one song, three new ones are released in its place. Every day I check facebook, and at least five new a cappella groups are releasing singles, or making albums, or trying out new music on tour. It’s enough to make your own head spin.

How can someone keep up with the latest a cappella trends, when new ones pop up every day? Here are some handy methods that I use to keep myself informed:

Method 1: “Buying in Bulk.”

Picture a warehouse store, like Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s. You don’t go there every day to buy toilet paper…you go there once a month to buy a tremendous amount of toilet paper and keep yourself stocked through Christmas.

Method one is sort of like shopping at these warehouse stores. Instead of downloading or listening to new a cappella music every day, take one day out of the week/month/year to download a "buttload" (technical term) of music, and then spend the rest of your down-time listening to your new purchases.

You may be slightly behind everyone else in terms of present-day knowledge, but you won’t have to worry about playing catch-up every day of the week.

Method 2: “The Family Tree”

This method is similar to a family tree. You start at the top. Your parents/siblings are listed below. Their parents/siblings are listed below them, etc.

Let’s put this to some aca-use. Look at the five CARA-nominated albums for best pop album. You download/listen to those first. Next, you download/listen to every album by those same artists. Then, you download/listen to every album that comes up in a music store recommendation list. Then you download/listen to all the albums by those artists, etc.

Method 3: “The Subscriber”

Like an a cappella group? Subscribe to their Youtube page, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, blog about them on Reddit, bookmark their website, sign up for a Google notification, look at their instagram photos, download their app…see where I’m going with this?

The best part is, most of these websites and programs do the notification work for you. They inform you when a group’s page has been updated or new information has been added. You can decide what to look at and what to ignore.

Method 4: “The Expert on Nothing”

Who says you have to be up-to-date with every a cappella trend? Why not spend all of your time becoming an expert on one particular group? It would save you time, money, and you could be considered the foremost “expert” on group knowledge at every major a cappella festival.

When fighting the a cappella Hydra, one method may not be enough. Hercules kept chopping off heads, only to make his situation worse. If you want to be an expert on a cappella, you have to try different methods and spend your time, and money, wisely. Good luck.

#Listening #Philosophy

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