Arranging For Women's Voices in Contemporary a Cappella Music

Date of Graduation

Spring 2007


Master of Music



Committee Chair

John Prescott


Unaccompanied multi-part singing has existed for over a thousand years and has grown as composers have found new and different ways to express the voice. A new style of singing has emerged in recent years known as contemporary a cappella singing. Contemporary a capella music is based on recordings of existing songs rather than original scores with the purpose of capturing the essence of the original popular song while infusing it with something new and different. The very elements that make a capella songs so interesting are what make them different from the original songs. Female groups must regularly overcome the obstacles they face simply because of the natural range of their voices. Contemporary a cappella arrangers must find ways to create power with the women's voices and to most accurately emulate the original song in question. Such is done through the use of contemporary harmonies, alteration of the bass line, use of the strengths and weaknesses of the natural range of women's voices, texture variance, modulation, and vocal doubling. Through the use of these techniques, contemporary a cappella arrangers have created arrangements for women's group that fulfull the goals of the contemporary a capella genre.


a cappella, women, arranging, choral, emulation, contemporary, music

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© Susan Anne LaBarr