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Archiv für Juni, 2011

Lo & Flo present: A Transatlantic A Cappella Q&A

by Lo Barreiro & Florian Städtler

This article is the result of a real 21st century relationship, a transatlantic encounter of the digital kind, a musical conversation across the pond. It features a woman and a man from different countries, continents and cultures who have decided to get to know each other’s world a bit better by simply asking each other 10 questions.

Lo Barreiro & Christopher M. Diaz (Mouthoff Show)

Lauren “Lo” Barreiro – according to – is “a recent Boston transplant from Tallahassee, Florida”, who started studying voice at the age of eleven and fell in love with a cappella during college. At Florida State University, she studied voice performance and recreation management and directed the FSU’s first and only all-female a cappella group, the AcaBelles. Today she’s a CASA ambassador in Boston and has led workshops, panels, and masterclasses at SoJam 2010, became a team member of The Vocal Company as a consultant, producer, and arranger, and founded the all-female professional sextet Musae (@MusaeVocal). Not to forget, Lo writes about her teaching and singing experience on her own blog Acalosophy.

Clare Wheeler (The Swingle Singers) & Florian Städtler

Florian Städtler lives and works out of Freiburg, Germany. After studies of jazz & pop guitar and working as a band leader, arranger and composer for several years, he slowly but surely moved from the microphone to the telephone. When he decided to found his company SpielPlanVier in 2003, he had worked for the pioneering Jazzchor Freiburg for more than ten years, organizing tours to Japan, South Korea, Russia and all over Europe. Today Florian has established his agency as one of the leading artist management companies for vocal music, working with groups like The Swingle Singers, The Real Group, Rockapella, VOCES8 and The Boxettes. In 2009 he started blogging about vocal and a cappella music via Vocal Blog and one year later started the process of founding the European Voices Association (EVA).

What started with some tweets between @loloalexandra and @vocalblog (or was it some Facebook comments?) led to a mutual wish to learn more about perspectives on vocal music on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s basically a Q&A (question & answer) dialogue that’s going on…we actually don’t know for how long, the original idea was ten questions and ten answers by Lo & Flo. We’ll see what’ll happen.  These posts will be short and will be uploaded about twice a week on one or both of the blogs. So here we go, let the Lo & Flo A Cappella Q&A start, as a humble step to make a cappella people in the US and the EU aware of each other.

Lo’s question #1: “Why do you, or really, do you think the American and European vocal music aesthetics are so different?”
Flo’s answer #1: “That’s a big question. Firstly, yes: vocal music aesthetics as well as aesthetics in general are different. That’s simply because music on both continents is based on very different cultures. From an non-US point of view, the States – although based on a history of immigration – are much more ONE region than the (still very young) European Union. The European diversity is reflected by various completely different cultures ranging from Icelandish avantgarde pop to Spanish hard rock or the classical tradition from Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Wagner, Shostakovitch, Stockhausen etc. The history of dozens of completely different mini-states in Europe resulted in different languages, different currencies, different school systems, different media, and – of course – different music. That’s why in my opinion the differences between two vocal groups from Finland and Portugal are most probably much stronger than between two vocal groups from Maryland and Texas.

Another interesting aspect: Europe’s vocal music education and organisation is exactly twenty years behind the development in the USA. The first real jazz choir in Germany was founded in 1990. The first a (small) cappella group in 1981. And every new group over here will have to ask themselves one big question regarding their style: “What’s the ratio between the incredibly powerful influence of the Anglo-American culture of popular entertainment and the cultural roots of the country we come from?”

Now it’s your turn: Tell us your opinion, give us your answer and let us know what makes US a cappella so different from European vocal music. We would love you to join the conversation, thanks for your comments!

If you want to get in touch with 800+ a cappella activists worldwide, join the Vocal Blog Facebook group or follow Vocal Blog on Twitter.

KategorienMain Tags: , , ,


by Kristoffer Thorning, Postyr Project (Denmark)

For some years now, I have been working with different kinds of looping devices for vocal music. Here is a collection of my thought and ideas about this subject.

Loop Options

There is a lot of different loop options out there. First you should consider if you want a hardware or software setup. Both options have their own strengths and disadvantages.

A hardware setup like a Boss RC-50, DigiTechs JamMan, Kaoss Pad from Korg, TC- Voicelive Touch or other loop machines can be very tricky to incorporate into a sound setup with other devices. It takes a lot of work to sync the midi devices to other devices and to find the right place for the loop machine in the chain of other effects or loop machines. The devices are also limited to the way they were build, which makes it hard for you to expand or develop, when (not if (-:) your setup is growing bigger.

On the plus side, you get a dependable and easy way of doing your loop setup, and you don’t have to speculate about software updates or computer failures.

With a software setup you have tons of options to incorporate your loops into other things. You can find some really cool freeware stuff out there like Mobiüs and SooperLooper. If you are using Ableton Live or Logic’s Mainstage, you can use the build in loop machines there.

A lot of singers and instrumentalists like to have their loop controls at their feet instead of in their hands. So with a software setup you need a foot controller. I would recommend the cheap Behringer or the slightly more expensive, but very complex and extremely more tech-from-the-future-like SoftStep. Both are midi controllers and can therefore be setup to control any parameter you need for doing your loops (or controlling effects or channels or instruments etc.).

Because of the infinite possibilities a software loop setup gives you, it is easy to get lost. It takes some time to master, and it also means that you have to get into some basic programming to bring your loop setup to life. But you will end up with a personal setup that are fitted just for your needs and is very easy to expand and morph into new things later. There is a lot of cool tutorials out there for doing your sofware loops, but yet I haven’t found anyone specifically for singers and beatboxers.

My Hardware Setup

Let me dig into to a way of putting up a hardware loop setup.

Get yourself a Boss RC-50! It’s the most reliable and diverse loop station on the market, and it has a lot of connection possibilities. It has three loop channels, and it has the possibility to overdub loops on each channel, so you can make multi layered loops. You can plug in a microphone, and a stereo instrument and you even have an aux input as well. You have plenty of options for triggering samples, creating separated suboutputs and so on. The cool thing about it is that it loops straight out of the box and has some more advanced options built into it as well. The Boss RC-50 is the core in my hardware loop setup. It works as a midi clock master that controls the other machines in my setup. There’s a lot of talented musicians that use the RC-50. You can get started by exploring these videos:


and the crazy Rico Loop:

I haven’t used the TC-Voicelive Touch yet, but it seems to work fine even though you have to use your hands to control it… The most basic option is a simple one-loop pedal like the JamMan. You can’t really get it wrong. I know there are even more options. Take for instance the loop setup of Swiss singer Martin O. or some of all the other loop pedals on the market. I would like to know more about them, so if you know more, please drop a comment about it here.

In my setup I work a lot with the Kaoss Pad (KP) that besides giving me the option of using live effects on stage, has a nice intuitive looping option as well. On the KP you have 4 loop channels and the possibility to record two loops  into one channel. The great thing about the KP,  is that you can add effects to your loops and thereby create soundscapes and more produced grooves and loops.

One huge disadvantage though, is that it has a 16beat maximum and it has to have a tempo preset, which means that you can’t start a loop without first giving a tempo preset. In other words, you have to be in the same tempo as the KP.

This is where the Boss RC-50 and the KP really works great together. Setting up the Boss RC-50 as the midi-clock-master and letting it control the tempo of the KP, makes you able to get around some of the weaknesses of the KP.

You can see a clip with the great master of the Kaoss Pad, Beardy Man, here:

and read more about his setup with 4 Kaoss Pads and a Boss RC-50 here.

Loop Practice

A loop machine is a great way of developing new ideas and working on small compositions and intuitive arranging in your rehearsal room or studio. It is also a cool way to use to your own voice and listening and practicing with change of timbre, pitch and pronunciation.

Postyr Project (DK)

With Postyr Project I have been working a lot to integrate loops into our live concerts. It takes hard work to get the right timing and to find some “loop-holes” if the live looping for some reason goes wrong. More and more vocal groups experiment with live looping, and I think that there are some great perspectives in this. For me it is all about getting the right sound and putting the right feeling into the music, and I think that I in time can get a beatboxing loop even more integrated in some of the arrangements we do in Postyr Project. A loop always stays the same and it means that the listeners can focus on the melody or lyrics instead of the beat.

Kristoffer Thorning is singer, composer, arranger and technical wizard with Danish electronic vocal group Postyr Project. Listen to their debut album, read the article again and you’ll catch a glimpse of the future of vocal music. Stay tuned to Vocal Blog, Postyr will be featured with more blog posts soon.

What’s your opinion on vocal groups using electronic devices? Have you used it with your group? Let us know what you think about Postyr’s way of integrating the latest technology into their music. Thanks for joining the conversation – here’s to the future of vocal, a cappella and choral music!