Vocal Music Genres

The most comprehensive list of Vocals Music genres available on the Internet

The Music Genres List site covers many of the most popular styles of vocal music, we hope this becomes the definitive list of vocals music genres on the Internet, send an email to add @ musicgenreslist dot com if you feel any vocal music genres are missing and we’ll add to complete the music list.

Vocal

  • Barbershop (with thx to Kelly Chism)
  • Doo-wop (with thx to Bradley Thompson)
  • Standards
  • Traditional Pop
  • Vocal Jazz
  • Vocal Pop

Vocal music is a genre of music performed by one or more singers, with or without instrumental accompaniment, in which singing provides the main focus of the piece.

Music without any non-vocal instrumental accompaniment is referred to as a cappella.

Vocal music typically features sung words called lyrics, although there are notable examples of vocal music that are performed using non-linguistic syllables or noises, sometimes as musical onomatopoeia. A short piece of vocal music with lyrics is broadly termed a song.

Vocal music is probably the oldest form of music, since it does not require any instrument besides the human voice. All musical cultures have some form of vocal music.

www.casa.org

This is CASA: the Contemporary A Cappella Society.

CASA was formed to create a community between singers and fans of contemporary a cappella.

For those of you not familiar with the term “contemporary a cappella,” it’s a moniker used to describe the idiom of popular a cappella (voices only – no instruments) that arose during the mid-late 1980s, and now spans a wide variety of styles including rock, pop, r&b, hip-hop, country, jazz, etc.

There are thousands of contemporary a cappella groups around the US and world, ranging from high school and college ensembles to professionals and recreational groups. And CASA is their organization, providing help, guidance, advice, coaching, information, events, recordings, grants, workshops, critique, awards, arrangements, instructional videos, and just about everything else a group could need. Besides the pitch pipe.

There are also countless fans of contemporary a cappella, some who sang, and others who are familiar with the style having seen it on TV, heard it on the radio, watched it at a local festival, etc. CASA is a clearinghouse of information and goodies for them as well, providing a directory, concert listings, news, album and concert reviews, blogs, podcasts, interviews, videos, MP3 downloads, local contacts, photos, and so on. If you like contemporary a cappella, you’ve come to the right place.


What is a cappella?

A cappella is not a genre but a style of musical performance: any music performed by voices alone (or, to be a bit more inclusive if a bit less precise, by the human voice, vocal apparatus, and sometimes body alone). Although any type of music may be performed a cappella — and every type has been! –,  thanks to the popularity of contemporary a cappella, the term is often used to mean voices-only performance of modern genres of music from the 20th and 21st centuries, including barbershop, doo-wop, hip-hop, jazz, pop, R&B, and rock and its derivatives.

Historically, the Italian term a cappella referred to music performed “in the style of the chapel”: vocal music either without instrumental accompaniment or, at most, with instruments only duplicating the vocal line(s). As “chapel” implies, one strong tradition of such vocal music was non-secular or sacred in subject-matter; it was often liturgical, performed as part of religious service. Whether sacred or secular, the earliest attested vocal music was monophonic, consisting of a single vocal line or melody.

Over time, Western vocal music developed traditions of polyphony (multiple vocal lines or voices) and harmony (with those multiple voices sounding different notes simultaneously). At the same time, the range of subject-matter expanded to include secular topics. Both harmony and topics were — and are — subject to traditional constraints; alongside differentiated styles of vocal delivery and visual performance, this resulted in recognizable genres of a cappella music, eventually leading to those mentioned above and to others.

Grounded in those musical traditions and genres, contemporary a cappella is old enough now to have traditions of its own. These include groundbreaking groups in each of those genres (for example, and respectively: Boston Common and OC Times; The Mighty Echoes and The Persuasions; Duwende and Kickshaw; mpact and Take Six; Blue Jupiter and The Flying Pickets; Naturally 7 and Schrödinger’s Cat; and Fork and The House Jacks; as well as genre-defying and artform-defining groups like The Bobs, Chanticleer, and The King’s Singers); producers and engineers specializing in a cappella (Bill Hare, diovoce, Liquid 5th Productions, VocalSource); annual festivals (like the Los Angeles A cappella Summit, SingStrong, SoJam, and the Vermont A cappella Summit); annual competitions (ICCA and ICHSA); national and international organizations (including BHS,CAL, CASA); recording awards (BOCA, CARAs, Voices Only); and a growing number of third-party critical and review organizations (Mouth Off, RARB).

A cappella music — not the term, but the style of musical performance — has been part of every human culture, and must be as old as humankind! Think of the naturally audible and meaningful harmony resulting from difference in basic pitch, or formant, between male and female voices, or adult and child voices.

Doo-wap

Doo-wop (sometimes doo-wopp) is a style of vocal-based rhythm and blues music developed in African American communities in the 1940s, achieving mainstream popularity in the 1950s and early 1960s.

As a musical genre, doo-wop features vocal group harmony with the musical qualities of many vocal parts, nonsense syllables, a simple beat, sometimes little or no instrumentation, and simple music and lyrics. It is ensemble single artists appearing with a backing group. Solo billing usually implies an individual is more prominent in the musical arrangement.

Singer Bill Kenny is often noted as the “Godfather of Doo-wop” for his introduction of the “top & bottom” format used by many doo-wop groups. This format features a high tenor lead with a “talking bass” in the song’s middle.

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