The 4 TUNES' All-Vocal A Cappella School Show

What's the show about?

These days it's unusual to hear a group of performers singing without the support of musical instruments. At one time this was the norm. Throughout history humankind has developed new instruments to keep up with ever-changing musical trends. The human voice was the very first musical instrument. As we can hear from listening to the popular music of today, the voice remains one of the most powerful and versatile instruments we have.

This show was designed to expose school audiences to a wide variety of musical styles while showing the audience the versatility of the human voice and explaining some of the 'how to' aspects of singing a cappella. The show intends to present exemplary role models for both girls and boys and to reinforce the importance of being CREATIVE in life. The show is upbeat and interactive and will have your students snapping, clapping, and laughing in no time!

"The All Singing A Cappella Review!"is appropriate for all grades from K - 12. The performance runs approximately 50 minutes . The 4 TUNES are happy to include a brief question - answer period following the show. The group is also available to perform workshops for interested music and drama classes.

Following are some basic facts that the 4 TUNES kept in mind while putting together their public school programming. Some of these aspects may be discussed a lot, a little or not at all in the show that you see. Please use the information as you see fit.

Some Definitions...

Music: The New Webster's Dictionary defines music as, "the art of giving structural form and rhythmic pattern to combinations of sounds produced instrumentally or vocally".

A Cappella: The term "a cappella" comes from the Italian meaning, "as done in the chapel". This refers to the singing of plain chant, or Gregorian chant, in the church during the medieval age. Although the term "a cappella" referred originally to sacred music it has become the definition of any unaccompanied singing.

Some Different Musical Styles:

Looking at all the different cultures throughout the world, it is easy to see that there have been countless types of music throughout history. Here are a few that The 4 TUNES have selected for "The All Singing A Cappella Review!

The Late Baroque Period ran from approximately 1700 to 1750. It was during this time that the famous composer J. S. Bach created his great works. His style is very complex, exact and mathematical. He composed a great many works for keyboard instruments such as church organ and harpsichord. The 4 TUNES perform a small piece written for the harpsichord (most likely as a teaching exersize). It is called (ceremoniously enough) "Two Part Invention # 8".

Traditional Folk Songs are found everywhere in the world where people sing. This is the music of the common people, music that speaks of life with its everyday experiences and concerns. Much of this music is centuries old and has been passed down through generations by performance rather than written music. "Mary Mack" and " The Nova Scocia Diet" are folk songs that the 4 TUNES use in the show.

Barbershop Music became popular during the late 19th century in the United States and Canada. As its name suggests, this form of music was sung at meeting places such as the barbershop. Musically uneducated people would improvise harmonies over popular melodies of the day. Barbershop music continues to be very popular today. "The Auctioneer" is an excellent example of barbershop music.

Jazz Music evolved from a strange combination of classical music, spirituals and work songs. Around the turn of this century jazz music was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the form of "Ragtime" and "Dixieland"music. Since then, jazz has developed into many different forms and styles. During the 1930's and 40's, jazz singers and vocal groups became widely popular with the help of radio. " Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" is an example of vocal jazz music.

Rock and Roll Music was born in the 1950's and is one of the most popular forms of music today. Rock and roll's distinctive sound lies in the use of electric guitars, driving rhythm and simple chords and melodies. The lead singer plays an important role in the rock band. "Blue Moon" is a great rock and roll tune. Rock and Roll music has since developed into many different styles of 'Pop" music. In the "All Singing A Cappella Review" the 4 TUNES also perform funk, motown, '90's pop and some TV themes. All of these styles got their beginnings in '50's Rock and Roll.

Some 'HOW TO?' Information:

The 4 TUNES create music from many different styles. When performing music that was originally written for the human voice, (i.e. barbershop) the singers basically just sing the parts as they were written. More challenging is when the group takes a song normally performed by a musical instrument or a rock band (i.e. the Bach piece or the Jimi Hendrix piece). In these cases the members of the group must find a way to imitate the sounds of the original instruments, whether it be a harpsichord or a drum kit.

It is important to have a very flexible and versatile group of singers in order to achieve the widest possible variety of sounds as well as the widest harmonic range. The 4 TUNES consist of 4 different vocal ranges. From highest to lowest they are:

Soprano: The highest female voice (and highest voice of all) in the group. Susan Ansley sings soprano for the 4 TUNES.

Alto: The lower female voice with a richer mid-range timbre. Katrina Bishop is the 4 TUNES' alto.

Tenor: The highest male voice. High enough to swap parts with the alto if needed. Tim Everett is the tenor in the 4 TUNES.

Bass: The lowest voice of all. This voice often covers the bottom end, imitating a stand up or electric bass guitar. Doug Austin sings amazingly low bass for the 4 TUNES.

Discussions and Activities

1) Have your students write a "dictionary-style" definition of what they think MUSIC is. Ask your students to share their ideas.

2) Discussion: What are your favourite bands? Favourite songs? What do you like about them? Where did you first hear them? Imagine what this music would sound like a cappella.

3) Ask your students if they know any songs they have learned from their parents or family. Examples might be campfire songs, songs from their ethnic background, parents' favourite songs, etc. See if the students can identify these with the song types performed by The 4 TUNES.

4) Discussion: What is your favourite musical instrument? What kind of music is this instrument usually used for? Can you imitate this instrument with your voice?

5) Form small bands of students to perform a popular melody with each student imitating their favourite musical instrument.

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