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An Entertainment Community

Summary:
A Capella translated from its Latin roots is defined as music created without
instrumental accompaniment, or any musical piece intended to be performed in this way.
Recently A Capella has grown in interest and caused for a great amount of interest. An A
Capella group is any number of people who work toward a common goal of learning, creating,
and performing A Capella music. The Finer Niners is the only A Capella group on the University
of North Carolina at Charlotte campus and is the one weve chosen for our study. While most
have seen more recent studies that only touch on how an A Cappella works and sings, researchers
never address the impact of discourse community on A Capella. A discourse community is a
group of people who share a set of discourses, understood as basic values and assumptions, and
ways of communicating about those goals (Discourse Community Ethnography). Our group
proceeded to conduct this research to clarify discourse communities and how the A Capella is a
discourse community. The group utilizes many different methods and techniques to achieve their
goals, including rehearsals, bonding retreats, social media sites, and smaller performances. A
discourse community is a group of people who share a set of discourses, understood as basic
values and assumptions, and ways of communicating about those goals (Discourse Community
Ethnography). This discourse community has specific genres, lexuslexis, and communication
mechanisms that people in the group are required to learn and keep up with in order toto be
members. In our research we conducted an interview, sat in at a meeting to make observations
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and see what the group does, and alsoand researched some background information to learn
about A Capella in general.

Secondary Research Findings:


After doing some research on the history and background of A Capella music, we found
that A Capella itself truly has no single origin or history. Many cultures and religions across the
globe all have different experiences and types of A Capella music. The earliest records of what
may have been sheet music date back as far as 2000 BCb.c in the form of a cuneiform tablet. As
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cultures began to adopt and develop music, mostly through religion, the culture and history of A
Capella music began to grow as well. A Capella music comes in all shapes and sizes, varying
from a large group performing at national competitions, a small church choir, or even a soloist
rocking out in the shower. A Capella music originally started to gain popularity and break from
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its traditional role in the church, with the emergence of a particular style in the 1930s known as
barbershop. Barbershop is usually a quartette of men composed of four vocal parts, two tenors, a
baritone, and a bass. This unique and stylized form of A Capella music became popular very
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quickly and continues to be aparta part of A Capella culture today. More recently, the A Capella
craze among youth has skyrocketed do to television, movies, and media. Some of the most
popular TV shows and box office hits within the past 6 years have bred and fueled pop cultures
A Capella obsession, some of which include Glee, Pitch Perfect, The Sing Off, and The
Late NightLate-Night Show with Jimmy Fallon who loves to feature different celebrities and
create music for his show. The TV singing competition The Sing Off produced one of the most
well knownwell-known A Cappella groups in history, known as pentatonixPentatonix. Pentatonix
since its formation in 2011, have now sold over 8 million albums and perform worldwide. A
Capella has been around since the beginnings of music and throughout its evolution and rising

popularity will continue to make an impact on a global scale, and is something music lovers
everywhere can be aparta part of.(of. (Mitchell)

Research Methods:
For the interview, we tried to lay out a series of questions that would end up getting a
good amount of information out of the member, and alsoand gather information that would differ
from simple observations that you could make. The interview gave us insight to how the member
of the group felt along with other information that could not be found through secondary
research. The member that we chose to interview is Rachel Burrow, she is the acting president of
the the A Capella group at UNCC. When we interviewed Ms. Burrow she seemed very
enthusiastic and passionate about the group. We asked her questions to see what their goals are as
a group, where they meet, how they communicate and make decisions, and what is required in
order toto be a part of The Finer Niners. We tried to touch base on multiple genres, one of which
was the level of expertise. We touched base on this by asking if they required a tryout or a certain
level of expertise in order toto gain a spot in the group. Their use of facebookFacebook and
groupmeGroupMe for communication, intercommunication and mechanisms were found by
asking burrow how they communicate and ask questions. The group uses these different
communication platforms to make sure every member is alerted about upcoming performances
and important dates. The group also uses a polling system in order toto gather information from
the members such as which date works better for everyone and what songs would you like to
learn next. Their commonly set goals were found by asking what the groups ultimate goalgoal,
which was to make about ten to twelve songs for the end of year concert and practice for

performances that they are hired for. We met Ms. Burrow at peetsPeets coffee shop the
interview.
For the sit-insit-in, we attended one of the Finer Niners weekly meetings that they have
twice a week for approximately three hours long. We listened and made many observations
during the meeting about how the meeting was ran and the way member interacted with each
other, focusing on the components that are need to make up a discourse community. The sit-in on
the meeting was helpful when reviewing our research because instead of a member directly
telling us what they do, which could be bias, we could watch for ourselves and see what they do
and what they want to accomplish. The meeting start by the president leading a serious
discussion with light humor about the previous performance. Although the conversation has a
serious tone, it was an open conversation where the members of the group could speak their
mind. They discussed the quality of the previous performance including skills that they did well
on as well as skill that could use some adjusting. Once all the members have spoken their mind,
the group begins to warm up their vocal cords by having one of the members lead and the rest
follow. The rest of the meeting consists of the members practicing songs that need improvement
or learning for the first time. The president of the group listens to the songs and gives members
feedback throughout. The meeting concludes after short announcements are made about
upcoming events. Witnessing a meeting conducted by the Finer Niners showed us the feedback
given to each of the members and the group as a whole. Also during the meeting, we gathered
information about the member there, both experienced members and new members. The
members entering the group may have had some experience with singing and different types of
music, but only a select amount had any previous experience with an A Capella group.(group.
(Nowell)

The discourse community of A Cappella and more specifically the Finer Niners, has a
wide range of its very own speech. There are many common terms and phrases within this
community that only the members within understand and use frequently and example of these
would be the two common terms used to describe two different voice parts, the mezzos and
sopranos. The terms used in place of these common musical words are mets and sops.
Another example of lexis would be the particular use of words to describe performances such as
arrangement which refers to the order of songs that will be performed at any given event. The
final few observations of lexuslexis include register and siren. The term register is common
for any involved in the art of singing, register refers to any persons typical vocal range or where
on a musical scale they are most comfortable singing. The final term siren is specific to this
discourse community. A siren is a type of vocal warm up for the group where they steadily belt
from their highest to lowest notes. Lexis is an important aspect for this group because it adds a
sense of exclusivity while also helping to give commands to members in the group. Lexis among
the Finer Niners helps to keep them collected and organized. (Shanika)

Results:
After reviewing all of our research we determine that the Finer Niners, A Capella at the
campus of UNCC is a discourse community according to Swales definition. They have a broadly
agreed set of common public goals which was stated by Rachel Burrow, the president, in the
interview. The group also has mechanisms of intercommunication among their members such as
holding multiple meeting every week, talking on the phone when needing to communicate
something quickly, and even group chats. A big part of this community is the information and
feedback that is given throughout their meetings. Our secondary research found that this

community has and uses several different genres to further communicate and meet their goals
such as the website that is open to anyone and a private facebookFacebook page that is used only
by members to communicate important information. In addition to the mechanisms of
intercommunication and the genres used by the group, it has also developed its own specific lexis
that was mentioned in the methods section. The members of this community also meets the
standards of the definition of the discourse community by having multiple members that all have
varying degrees of information, experience, and expertise about A Capella. Since this community
follows all six of the necessary requirements set by Swales definition of a discourse community,
it is determined that the Finer Niners; an A Capella group at The University of North Carolina at
Charlotte is a discourse community. (the Meaning and Evolution of an A Capella Group)

Works Cited

"Discourse Community Ethnography." English 1101 Portfolio. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2016.

"MITCHELL, SALLY (English, CAS & EE Coordinator)." / Web Resources. N.p., n.d. Web. 09
Nov. 2016.

Nowell, Carrie. "Home." The Finer Niners. Squarespace, 2013. Web. 09 Nov. 2016.

Shanika. "Shanika." TakeLessons. Shanika Https://tlcdn.s3.amazonaws.com/images/logoTagline.svg, 03 Mar. 2016. Web. 09 Nov. 2016.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Aboutcom-Classical-Music/262450883806565. "The Meaning


and Evolution of A Cappella Music." About.com Entertainment. N.p., 2015. Web. 09 Nov. 2016.

Appendix

Interview- with Rachel Burrow (group president)


What Made you join?
I always loved to sing and A Capella gave me the chance to express this with my friends.
How did you learn/teach yourself to sing?
It had always come natural to me and high school chorus helped train me and learn who I was
as a singer
How many members are aparta part of this group?
16
Where do you meet for rehearsals?
We go to the student Union for three hours twice a week, to practice songs and go over new
material.
What is your group's goal?
Our goal is to have companies and organizations hire us for events and we have a concert at the
end of the year where we try learn anywhere from ten to twelve songs for.
Concept of team communication?
We have a facebookFacebook page where we make major post and use a groupmeGroupMe so
the whole group can discuss things. After each practicepractice, I make announcements.
How do you guys discuss decisions made as a team?
Normally as president I can make the more simplesimpler decisions, but we have an executive
board to get more opinions on situations and decisions.
What expertise do you require in order toto make the team?
You have to be a somewhat good singer and you have to be a performer, someone does not get
nervous in front of crowds.

Observation Notes
8/25/16

Members do not interrupt each other (discussing previous carowindsCarowinds event)

Serious conversations but with light humor

President leads discussion about possible issues within the group while sitting in a circle

Events and reminders posted on the groups Facebook page and groupmeGroupMe
messenger

After the conversationconversation, a 5 minute5-minute break is given

Warm ups begin after


o A member of the group leads warmup
o The rest of the group repeats/follows the leader
o Members seem to have fun and are relaxed
o Members then warm up by standing and stretching

Then they learn a warm up song


o A member sings the song once
o The rest of the members join along in singing the second time
o Then they speed the song up and then again as fast as they can

Then they do a siren to complete warm ups

Members rearrange into their vocal parts

Members sing the beginingbeginning of a new song they have been practicing

It's a melody with different members leading

o Member clap to keep track of the beat


o The group restarts from the middle
o To learn a new part of a song the note areis played on a keyboard for each vocal
group
o Before each try at the song, the leader plays the key for each group and then the
beatboxer introduces the song with 4 beats, ts, ts, ts, ts
o Suggestions are made from different members after each run through
o Once members have tried all parts they go through the entire song standing
o Heartbreak medley was their most recent song

Then they practiced a song they have already learned and enjoyed
o They practiced it like a performance
o Smiling while singing
o Some dancing throughout the song

Announcements followed
o Song suggestions are given on facebookFacebook
o The song is then voted on during the meeting

Then the song being learned is practiced a few more times before they are dismissed

Encouragement is given throughout meeting

Multiple solos within the song (Mashup)

** when learning new materialmaterial, each member is given sheet music and learns
their own part separate from other vocal parts**

** before certain performances structured choreography is put into place to bring a


performance quality**