In musical performances, the human voice is usually accompanied by an instrument or a microphone that complements the sound effects of the voice. However, on certain occasions, singers show their vocal dexterity without any kind of complementary resources and sing with their voice as the only instrument. When this happens, it is said that they sing a cappella. Obviously, this way of singing has a high degree of difficulty and, at the same time, it entails certain risks, as any mistake can be made clear to the audience. What is To the Chapel?
Whoever sings à chapel performs live, with no playback, no instrumental accompaniments and no kind of artificial musical effect. In many musical performances, the human voice is digitally corrected, for example, through speech synthesizers.
The origin of the expression “singing a cappella”
The expression “singing a cappella” comes from Italian, more specifically from the word chapel or church. Therefore, “a cappella” literally means “as in the chapel”. It should be taken into account that, in the past, in churches, the use of musical instruments was prohibited, since singing was performed with the voice as the only element. Thus, singing in the chapel refers to the songs performed in churches.
Until the Middle Ages the only music in churches was Gregorian chants. It was from the 15th century that the use of musical instruments other than the human voice was introduced.
Italian musical terms
À cappella is an Italian form that is part of our language. In musical terminology, other words that come from Italian are used. There are countless examples in this regard: mezzosoprano, opera, loudspeaker, piano, sotto-voche (in a low voice), alegro (a musical composition), adagio ( movement of a musical piece), aria, cantata, double bass, quartet, fermata, minuet, sheet music, quintet, serenade or cello. What is To the Chapel?
These examples force us to address the following question: why is Italian so linked to musical language? There is not a single answer, there are several:
1) musical writing as we know it was consolidated in the Roman civilization and later this tradition took hold in the Italian musical tradition (the words used in the scores are mostly Italian and almost all come from Latin);
2) some musical genres are Italian such as opera;
3) some instruments were invented by Italian artisans, among the best known are the violin and cello.