Recording as Social Practice

On college campuses across the United States, Canada, England and parts of Asia and Europe, ensembles of student singers regularly enter recording studios with the goal of creating not only a musical product, but also a musical and social experience.  As a genre of amateur, peer-led musicians who arrange, perform and record mostly popular songs in vocal-only renditions, collegiate a cappella has roots in American barbershop and doo-wop.  The groups come in men’s, women’s, and mixed varieties, and at last count numbered somewhere over 1200 (Rapkin: 2008, 5).  Often claimed to have begun with the founding of the Whiffenpoofs at Yale University in 1909, the genre has more recently started to inch from its meager subcultural beginnings toward the mainstream in a variety of media, including a trade book (Rapkin: 2008), an album by rock singer Ben Folds (Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella!, 2009), NBC’s singing competition program, The Sing-Off! (2009–2011, 2013), and a feature film, Pitch Perfect (2012).[1]

For many in collegiate a cappella groups, one of the most important benefits of membership is the opportunity to record an album, a process that is deeply musical and at the same time intensely social.  After all, as student groups that generally operate without faculty leadership, peer interactions are the basis of the membership experience and often give rise to the expectation that every voice has a say in all decisions, musical and otherwise.  In this article, I consider the choices made and behaviors exhibited in preparation for, and throughout, the recording process, focusing in particular on the motivations for undertaking recording projects and the ways in which bodies and voices are organized musically, physically, and conceptually.  This social practice both reflects ideologies central to the culture of production specific to the genre and, concurrently, has a defining impact on the resulting musical product.

Research on collegiate a cappella has been limited.  My data is drawn from several years of ethnographic fieldwork (2001–2007) with groups on a variety of campuses in the United States, focusing in particular on groups at Boston, Brandeis, Harvard, Michigan State, and Yale Universities and the Universities of Michigan and Pennsylvania. During this time, I engaged in participant-observation at rehearsals, performances, recording sessions and social events, and I conducted semi-structured interviews with singers.  The genre has also been studied from a music education perspective, usually as an example of informal music making that may be incorporated, to some degree, into more formal curricula (e.g., Mayhew: 2009; Schumaker: 2013).  Several prevalent themes found in other studies bear on my work here, including autonomy, leadership and hierarchy, as well as the value of participation (Paparo: 2013).  In addition, the a cappella community has produced a collection of publications aside from musical arrangements that emphasize arranging methods but also include issues such as group formation and administration, repertory selection, and rehearsal and vocal percussion techniques (Bell and Sharon: 2012; Callahan: 2000; Chin and Scalise: 2012; and McDonald: 2012).  Few studies, however, have specifically considered how musical and social structures established by a cappella groups outside the recording studio affect the practices that take place there.

Motivations for Recording: Bonding through Shared Experience, Signifying Nostalgia

For many artists, financial gain sits alongside the desire to make artistic, philosophical, or political statements as motivation to make a record.  Similarly, some collegiate a cappella groups seek revenue from their albums.  “It’s how you market yourself when you’re not always singing,” said Dave, from the Treblemakers, a mixed group at Boston University (2005).  Recordings can generate income through album sales; many groups sell their albums directly to audiences at concerts and other performances, and some have begun selling their music online in Apple’s iTunes music store and other on-line venues.  Additionally, recordings can represent a group to future clients.  For example, before Amazin’ Blue, a mixed group at the University of Michigan, was selected to sing backup for pop crooner Michael Bublé at the Fox Theatre in Detroit in 2007, the media company coordinating the local musicians asked the group for one of its albums.  The existence of the CD reinforced the group’s professional qualifications.

The financial aspect of recording should not be overstated, however.  The benefits that individuals see from CD sales and digital downloads are not monetary, as proceeds customarily go to the group as a whole rather than directly to its members.  This suggests that, aside from the financial aspects of recording, the process and product also serve other purposes that I identify as social, including interpersonal bonding through shared experience and accomplishment, and a tangible signifier that enables nostalgia and personal gratification.

A recording project offers a common objective for a group’s members, with both short- and long-term results.  Dave explains:

It becomes very important to you because it’s a lot of hard work.  And just like any big project, you want it to be good. It’s a huge commitment.  Fund-raising is a huge commitment . . . But on a personal level it’s very important because it keeps morale up.  And it’s cool to have a CD.  Like, “Hey, this is what I did in college.”  To have a CD and say, “This is what I did.  Check this out.  I’m proud of this,” it’s really important. (Interview with Author: 2005)

Indeed, the recording process was already on the minds of Amazin’ Blue’s leaders just days after auditioning new singers in September 2001.  After inducting the new members, the entire group held a weekend-long “retreat” at one member’s parents home a short drive from campus, the main activity of which was a series of presentations and discussions of the group’s policies, procedures, and goals for the academic year, including its plans for studio recordings.  Crucial to these conversations was the fact that several of the group’s recent recordings had been included on the annual Best of College A Cappella recorded compilations (including the 2001 edition), a trend in which the returning members clearly took pride and which that year’s leaders sought to continue, despite the great effort it might entail.[2] Ultimately, these discussions offered an opportunity for two important things to happen: first, the group’s leaders established their social roles within the organization by demonstrating their vision for the ensemble and its musical direction to the general membership. Second, they began a transfer of knowledge about the group, and its social and musical practices, to the new members—before even beginning rehearsals.

The collective goal represented by a recording project provides a foundation on which to build social relationships—one of the overarching purposes of participation in an a cappella group (Duchan: 2012a).  Even disagreements can improve the sense of closeness and community that group members experience, especially if suitable musical results emerge from them.  Anna, an Amazin’ Blue alumna, reminisced in an interview that recording

[Was] a time when we were together for hours and hours and hours on end, which of course makes you argue more.  But […] you end up with something that’s totally amazing…you work your ass off—right?—and in the end you’re so much the better for it. (Interview with Author: 2004)

As Dave’s comments reveal, once an album is completed, it stands as a lasting embodiment of a group’s efforts.  A recording’s ability to transcend the passage of time makes it a reminder of the liminal experience of college.  “Recording’s important; it’s a more permanent thing, whereas performing is immediate,” explained Emily, also a Treblemaker. Recordings are “literally a record of what you’ve done the past four years” (Interview with Author: 2004).

The experience of making an a cappella recording renders the final product replete with vivid memories of the process.  Nearly all the singers and alumni I interviewed smiled, laughed, and enjoyed telling stories of their groups’ recording sessions, even in cases when they also recalled some of the tensions involved.  In an interview, alumna Jenny reminisced about recording with Amazin’ Blue in the early 1990s:

Recording was incredible.  […]  I do remember…we were experimenting.  It was totally fun.  I was on two albums and the two processes were totally different.  We had different numbers of tracks.  There may have been eighteen tracks on the first album…[but] on the next album we did, you could overdub like crazy, and that was really fun.  But I do remember there were discussions in the group about: do we have live songs on the album?  […]  We prided ourselves on being really good live. (Interview with Author: 2004)

Jenny clearly conveys the joy associated with her memories of the recording process by describing it as “incredible” and “totally fun.”  Moreover, her recollection hints at how recording technology was changing at the time by referencing the number of available tracks on the studio’s multi-track tape recorder.  Indeed, these improvements, which translated into more opportunities for overdubbing, created additional occasions for memorable and “fun” musical experimentation.  Her comments about the possible inclusion of “live songs,” however, reveal some trepidation about the artificiality such richly overdubbed recordings might exhibit.  After all, in practice, overdubbing is often a solitary effort involving an individual, rather than the whole group singing together in a manner similar to live performance.  Thus, as much “fun” as overdubbing might be, both the resulting sounds and the memories associated with it differ significantly from those created outside the studio environment.

Mark, a critic for the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB) website, linked a feeling of connectedness from live performance to recording and, specifically, to what he called “memorable moments”:

You’re sharing a moment with someone… And that can happen onstage, locking eyes with someone or realizing that you’re suddenly synced up with somebody.  Or it can happen on a recording, too, when you hear everything just completely coalesce perfectly and crystallize beautifully for a moment.  And then you keep hitting rewind to hear it over and over again, to hear that build, that hit, back at that one spot. (Interview with Author: 2005)

One might consider these memorable moments, of which Jenny implicitly speaks, as one kind of signifier for nostalgia, as they create in the present a vivid connection with the past.  The objects resulting from the a cappella recording process—originally L.P.s and later cassettes and CDs—are another kind, as they may spark memories with their physicality.  For example, many a cappella CDs include in their packaging photographs of the members whose voices can be heard on the disc, a visual representation of the group that, at least in my experience, can serve as a nostalgic trigger.[3]

Svetlana Boym describes “modern nostalgia” as “a mourning for the impossibility of mythical return, for the loss of an enchanted world with clear borders and values…the edenic unity of time and space before entry into history” (2001: 8).  It is, moreover, “dependent on the modern conception of unrepeatable and irreversible time,” for its objects exist “somewhere in the twilight of the past or on the island of utopia where time has happily stopped”(13).  Indeed, one’s participation in an a cappella group is always fleeting, as each year members graduate and are replaced.  While there exists a growing semi-professional and professional a cappella world, comprising many musicians who formerly sang with college groups, it is virtually impossible to repeat or reverse time by returning to one’s collegiate group.  (Try though they might: groups often invite alumni to join them on stage in concert for an “alumni song,” wherein former members may relive the experience for but a few moments.)  Thus, Boym’s characterization of nostalgia largely applies to the a cappella experience, as the recordings serve merely as audio and visual snapshots of a time, though filled with memorable moments, that is (long) past.

Organizing the Recording Process: Repertory Selection and Tracking Method

Collegiate a cappella groups exhibit a variety of approaches to the recording process that are determined partly by practical (usually financial) circumstances and partly by aesthetic preferences and social goals.  The most important decision that must be made before actually entering a studio entails song selection.  Some groups simply include their entire repertory from a given academic year on their records, usually between ten and twelve songs.  This approach results in what reviewers for the RARB call a “yearbook album,” since it is a sounding document of a particular configuration of voices from a particular time, like a yearbook of photos whose subjects all eventually graduate and move on.[4] As resources are finite, this method carries the danger that each song may receive limited studio time and attention, which may lessen the overall musical quality of the recordings.  However, for many groups, musical excellence is not the only objective.  Documentation is also important: the more songs that can be included on the album, the more opportunities exist for memorable moments, thus maximizing the record’s nostalgic potential.

Alternatively, some a cappella groups (such as Amazin’ Blue) choose songs for their recording project from their larger repertory by vote.  The number of songs that can be recorded is determined by the group’s budget.  A third approach is for songs to be selected by the group’s democratically elected leaders, typically the musical director and business director, president, or similar officer.  With this method, decision-making power is concentrated in the hands of a few individuals, thus carrying the greatest potential to sow discontent among the rest of the membership.  With these latter two approaches, only certain songs are recorded, the work of a few arrangers highlighted, a few soloists’ voices featured.  The documentary aspect of recording therefore is less pronounced, and the resulting tracks can no longer be taken as a representation of all the group’s musical efforts for the year.  Instead, they privilege certain sounds or voices over others.  This kind of distinction taps into the more general ways in which students use membership in an a cappella group—and all the activities therein—for social purposes, not just musical ones (Duchan: 2012a, 72–3, 80, 147, 181).

Once selected, groups must choose how their songs will be recorded, beginning with how to organize the basic tracking of background voice parts, which is usually accomplished before the song’s lead vocal is completed.  Like their more traditional choral counterparts, a cappella arrangements commonly organize voices by parts corresponding to vocal range, often adopting soprano, alto, tenor, (sometimes baritone) and bass designations from the Western choral tradition.  In the studio, however, each part need not correspond directly to a recorded track.  An individual singer might record his or her part two or three times onto separate tracks, doubling, tripling, or otherwise layering them to sound like there are more voices singing than there are actual singers.  An individual singer might also record separate tracks, each containing a different voice part, to fill in for absent singers or to bolster specific parts.

Moreover, different formal sections of a voice part may be recorded onto separate tracks in order to optimize the different functions each has in the arrangement.  For example, the same part may emulate a rhythm guitar during one section of a song (e.g., a verse) but a background vocalist in another section (the chorus), as was the case with the Treblemakers’ rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” (2008).  By separating a part onto different tracks this way, the audio contained on each can be treated separately in post-production to guide listeners toward a particular interpretation of the sounds they hear.  The sections of the song where a singer’s part emulates a guitar can be treated with a guitar distortion effect, for example, but the sections where his or her part is intended to sound like a vocalist will not.  Thus, the shift from live performance to recording studio, from choral arrangement to recording project, can result in a shift in the way singers conceive of their singing.  Dave, for example, is no longer a tenor, but his voice now has an instrumental function (Duchan 2007).

Oftentimes background parts are recorded simultaneously, even if each individual singer or each group of singers sharing a voice part is captured on a different track.  Certainly there are disadvantages to tracking a room full of singers at all once.  Mistakes are more difficult to edit out due to sound bleeding from one singer onto another’s microphone, for instance.  But this method also has advantages.  For one, it is efficient, allowing groups with smaller budgets to record more songs in the studio time they can afford.[5] Another advantage is social, as simultaneous multi-tracking may be as close to the feeling of a live performance as the group will get in the studio.  For some groups, such as the University of Michigan’s Gimble, financial factors are most important.  For others, such as the Whiffenpoofs, group tracking is an aesthetic choice.[6]

In groups that adopt this approach to tracking, a sense of authenticity often underscores beliefs regarding the recording process and its products.  To these musicians and, presumably, their audience, there is value in recordings that sound like concert performances, however imperfect.  In this view, the creation of recordings that sound markedly different from live performance is problematic because it challenges beliefs about authorship and the authenticity of the human voice seen as inherent to the a cappella medium (Duchan: 2012b).

This aesthetic stance is not universal among or even within a cappella groups, however.  Amazin’ Blue eschews simultaneous group tracking in favor of isolating individual parts and singers processurally, through more liberal overdubbing and “punching” in and out, and physically, with moveable studio baffles.  It takes much longer and is therefore more costly, but also reveals an aesthetic shift: recordings are no longer taken to be representations of live performance but artistic works in and of themselves whose components and overall sound are slowly and deliberately crafted using all the technologies at the group’s disposal.  These recordings are less documentary or “authentic” in the way a live performance is.  They may still fulfill a nostalgic function years later, but do so through an audio amalgam conceptually different from yearbook albums.

Social Organization:  Power and Relationships in the Studio

Amazin’ Blue’s approach to tracking highlights how the experience of recording music in a studio can differ greatly from live performance.  For college-age amateur singers used to rehearsal and performance environments, this difference can be especially noticeable.  This is perhaps why, as Jenny recalled, Amazin’ Blue considered including live material, taken from actual concerts or recorded live-in-studio, on their albums.  In the studio, the co-temporality of performance is removed and singers can only respond to the sounds that were recorded before them; they are no longer “interacting,” but “reacting” (Porcello: 1996, 60).  The “temporal simultaneity” that makes the Gimble or Whiffenpoofs recording session seem more like a live performance also allows it to serve a community-building purpose, as much choral activity does (Ahlquist: 2006).  But for an Amazin’ Blue–style session to do the same requires the singers to accept that their individual contributions are discrete and will be assembled later and, in ceding control of their voices, trust that that assembly will reflect well on their musicianship.  Indeed, when I sat in on recording sessions with Gimble, the Whiffenpoofs and other groups using similar methods, most of the singers remained near the control room listening to the playback of their voices or any overdubs that followed.  In contrast, when I recorded with Amazin’ Blue, I observed that fewer group members usually remained in the control room; the rest tended to study or hang out in the studio’s lobby, away from the recording process and disconnected from the ongoing musical activities.

The temporal fragmentation created by Amazin’ Blue’s method results in what Porcello calls an “antidemocratic force” (1996, 60) which counters the efforts many a cappella groups make to value each member’s contributions.  The physical fragmentation also reinforces Alan Williams’s claims about how the “performance space/control room divide” can be used in ways that enable particular actors in the studio environment to maintain certain levels of control (2013).  In the situations Williams observed, it was most often engineers and producers who exerted control over musicians through the panopticon (Foucault: 1979) of the control room window and talkback systems.  In the a cappella context, the role of producer is usually filled by the singers’ peers, acting in specific social and musical roles—either as the group’s musical director or the arranger of the song(s) being recorded—meant to ensure effective workflow so that the group can achieve its goals.

However, the fact that group members often serve as producer does not always mean that the performance space/control room divide is erased.  In my fieldwork, I witnessed at least one situation in which a soloist left the studio in tears, complaining about feeling manipulated by the seemingly omnipresent voice coming over the studio’s talkback system, delivering requests for elaborate vocal stylings that were impossible to fulfill.  And while the sessions I observed with Gimble and some other groups included the presence of singers in the control room, this is not a universal approach.  My experience in the studio as a member of a mixed group at the University of Pennsylvania is telling: under pressure to record our entire repertory from the academic year in a matter of days and at a level competitive with that of other groups appearing on the annual Best of College A Cappella compilation, the music director and president announced that access to the control room would only be granted to the group’s officers.  The rest of the members, when not singing, were shunted to the studio’s sparse waiting room, disconnected from the recording process.  They did not even have tea or coffee, beverages that have been identified as crucial to facilitating social interaction within the studio environment (Bates: 2012).[7] Many were unhappy and voiced their displeasure.  Despite the fact that the officers had, in fact, been elected by the group’s general membership to make decisions on their behalf, many of the rank-and-file believed that they deserved at least the chance to witness the decisions that would ultimately have a direct impact on the sound of their album (reviewers on the RARB website called the resulting CD “a letdown,” see Cohen: 2001) and, consequently, the memories associated with that sound and its creation.

It was partly as a result of this experience that I took a different approach when it was my turn to play producer for some Amazin’ Blue sessions.  I encouraged all the group’s members to participate in creating large, decorated flowcharts of the recording process, which were hung in the studio on the wall of the control room.  In theory, at least, these would enable all members to better understand “where we were” in this temporally disjointed process, share knowledge about its various steps, make the technology of the studio less intimidating to new members who may not have been to such a facility before, and facilitate their entry and exit from the room according to their own whims.

Because Amazin’ Blue’s approach to recording involved temporally and physically isolating individual singers in both basic tracking and overdubs, it took a considerable amount of time.  It was therefore not unusual for food to be brought in and shared, offering an opportunity for more communal gathering.  While a break from explicitly musical activity, these shared meals created additional occasions for the direct transfer of knowledge between members, and the state of the work-in-progress was a common topic of discussion.  These conversations often located those with more technical or musical know-how in a position of considerable power within the group’s social landscape, as it was they who could best explain what had been accomplished and what remained to be done.[8]

Williams observes how musicians are increasingly able to describe their “internal ideal audioscapes and…articulate their demands towards achieving the ideal” (2013).  Indeed, the more time a cappella singers spend in the control room, the greater the potential to absorb the concepts and terminology the engineers use.  Moreover, I get the sense that it is becoming increasingly common for a cappella groups—not just at the college level, but also high school groups—to handle parts of the recording process themselves.  Not every group can construct its own recording studio, like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Logarhythms did in 2003.  But by the time I left Amazin’ Blue, the group would routinely track at the studio, then bring the files back to campus and perform certain basic edits in the Performing Arts Technology Department’s audio suites before returning to the studio for mixing and mastering.  Interestingly, whereas most group members would at least be in the building for tracking, few would attend editing sessions, once again placing power in the hands of a couple dedicated individuals.


While many of the practices observed in the collegiate a cappella context are similar to those in other musical genres, a few aspects of the genre’s culture of production are distinctive.  The first is that recordings and the process of their creation have a lasting impact on the lives of the musicians involved, linking music, technology, memory, and nostalgia.  Yet, as a musical genre in which each person’s involvement is time-limited, recording(s) can be especially fraught.  If an album is, as Emily put it, “a more permanent thing” (2004) to which memories of sound and experience adhere, the pressure to get it “right” may be great.  After all, there may be a follow-up album, and it may bear the same group’s name, but it almost certainly will not capture the same voices, singing the same songs, under the same leadership.  The nostalgic potential of a record is greatest for those carrying memories of its creation.  As one singer put it, “in a cappella, the people who prize the recording the most are the people who made the recording.”  One can contrast this with other genres of popular music in which “fandom” includes intense activity surrounding the collection of records (e.g., Shuker: 2004).

Second, from the very beginning of a recording project, the choices these groups (or their leaders) make are motivated by financial constraints as well as aesthetic and social goals particular to their status as peer-led, student ensembles.  Each musician only participates for a few years, at most, and must therefore decide (or may contribute to the decision regarding) how he or she will leave a musical mark: with a documentary “yearbook” album of perhaps mediocre musical quality but complete representation of a year’s work; or with a more limited record that perhaps does not actually represent how the group ever sounded in live performance but meets someone’s (whose?) ideal conception of the arrangements or, in the pursuit of the perfect cover, uses studio technology to modify voices to emulate instruments to such a degree that they no longer even sound like voices.  The ethnographic evidence suggests that different groups—even different members within groups—make different choices, for varying reasons.

And third, the a cappella context illustrates how the social roles of the group can directly affect the sound of the recording and the experience of its creation.  If college is, indeed, a liminal period, then on some level the differences between members in this time of transition are minimized, a process known anthropologically as communitas (Turner: 1969).  On another level, however, a community of equals does not make for efficient decision making, especially when time is money and decisions with direct bearing on the final product—regarding tracking techniques, edits, mixing, post-production, etc.—are made seemingly by the minute by individuals with no personal financial stake in the project.  So if a group’s leaders are empowered to make those decisions, how will the rest of the membership react—especially when it is their legacy on the line?  My fieldwork included a wide variety of responses, from compliance resulting from strong faith in group leaders and their direction, on one hand, to utter rejection of the leaders’ decisions and open challenges to their authority on the other.

The social bonds of trust, formed outside the studio through months of rehearsal and performance, are thus dragged inside, where they can influence musicians’ behavior and the kinds and qualities of sound they offer.  Moreover, positive experiences in the studio can reinforce the trust that group members place in each other.  As Andrea, a singer with the Michigan State University Capital Green, remarked, after beginning to record her group’s album, “people started to trust [each other], like ‘I’m going to handle my part and everyone else is going to handle theirs’” (2005).  Ultimately, then, the a cappella case shows that recording is not just the capture (Katz: 2004) or composition (Zak: 2001) of sound, but the encoding of experience.


The author would like to thank the members of the Boston University Treblemakers, the Michigan State University Capital Green, the University of Michigan Amazin’ Blue, the University of Michigan Gimble, the University of Pennsylvania Counterparts, and the Yale University Whiffenpoofs for sharing their musical experiences; attendees at the 2013 Art of Record Production conference for their feedback; and Wendy Matthews, Emery Stephens, and the anonymous reviewers for their critique of earlier drafts of this essay.

[1] Despite this relatively recent explosion of a cappella activity and the historical significance of the 1909 Whiffenpoofs, there is plenty of evidence of such groups throughout the nineteenth century and earlier at Yale and elsewhere (see Duchan: 2012a, 11–22).

[2] The Best of College A Cappella series, begun in 1995, is produced annually by Varsity Vocals.  See

[3] Further study may examine the impact of digital distribution on this kind of physically and visually stimulated nostalgia, as CDs become less and less the primary medium through which a cappella recordings are bought, sold, and shared.

[4] See, for example, Trendler’s, review of University of Wisconsin-Madison MadHatters’ album, Friday After Class: “[T]he rhythmic clunkiness, awkward moments, and largely uninspiring arrangements, combined with the live recording of Ave Maria (yes, the same one you sang with your mediocre college men’s group), smacks of a young group recording a yearbook album.  As is usually the case with yearbook albums, relegate Friday After Class to family, friends—oh, and the Queen of Hearts’ guillotine” (2005).

[5] Further study may reveal a correlation between these “yearbook albums” and simultaneous group tracking methods.

[6] Given the Whiffenpoofs’ extensive international touring schedule, a generous operating budget can be inferred.  Therefore, the group’s preference for simultaneous multi-tracking is most likely an aesthetic, rather than financially driven, choice.

[7] Bates discusses English and Turkish studios in particular, but my observations in several American studios with a cappella musicians also support this claim.

[8] When not discussing the recording process, these familial conversations frequently provided members more general with social (and sometimes more directly academic) support at a critical and stressful time in the academic year, as recording sessions were often scheduled around final exams at the end of each semester to avoid conflicts with academic obligations.


Alquist, K., ed.  (2006)  Chorus and Community.  Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Andrea [Michigan State University Capital Green].  (2005)  Personal interview, 21 January.

Anna [University of Michigan Amazin’ Blue].  (2004)  Personal interview, 12 November.

Bates, E.  (2012)  “What Studios Do.”  In: Journal of the Art of Record Production 7.

Bell, D., and Sharon, D.  (2012)  A Cappella Arranging.  Milwaukee: Hal Leonard.

Boym, S.  (2001)  The Future of Nostalgia.  New York: Basic.

Callahan, A.  (2000)  Anna’s Amazing A Cappella Arranging Advice: The Collegiate A Cappella Arranging Manual.  Milwaukee: Hal Leonard.

Chin, M., and Scalise, M.  (2012)  The A Cappella Book.  The A Cappella Blog.

Cohen, M.  (2001)  Review of the University of Pennsylvania Counterparts, Ten (2001).  In: Recorded A Cappella Review Board [online].  Available at:  (accessed: December 2009).

Dave [Boston University Treblemakers].  (2005)  Personal interview, 9 February.

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Duchan, J.  (2012a)  Powerful Voices: The Musical and Social World of Collegiate A Cappella.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Duchan, J.  (2012b)  “Recordings, Technology, and Discourse in Collegiate A Cappella.”  In: Journal of American Folklore.  125, 498, pp. 488–502.

Emily [Boston University Treblemakers].  (2004)  Personal interview, 6 December.

Foucault, M.  (1979)  Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison.  New York: Vintage.

Jenny [University of Michigan Amazin’ Blue].  (2004)  Personal interview, 12 November.

Katz, M.  (2004)  Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music.  Berkeley: University of California Press.

Mark [Recorded A Cappella Review Board].  (2005)  Personal interview, 23 March.

Mayhew, P.J.  (2009)  “Perception of Collegiate Contemporary A Cappella Ensembles.”  In: Research Perspectives in Music Education.  13, pp. 22–27.

McDonald, B.  (2012)  A Cappella Pop: A Complete Guide to Contemporary A Cappella Singing.  Van Nuys, CA: Alfred.

Paparo, S.A.  (2013)  “The Accafellows: exploring the music making and culture of a collegiate a cappella ensemble.”  In: Music Education Research. 15, 1, pp. 19–38.

Porcello, T. (1996)  “Sonic Artistry: Music, Discourse, and Technology in the Sound Recording Studio.”  Ph.D. diss., University of Texas at Austin.

Rapkin, M.  (2008)  Pitch Perfect: The Quest for A Cappella Glory.  New York: Gotham.

Schumaker, A.  (2013)  “Incorporating Popular Music Into the Classroom.”  D.M.A. dissertation, University of Miami.

Shuker, R.  (2004)  “Beyond the ‘high fidelity’ stereotype: defining the (contemporary) record collector.”  In: Popular Music.  23, 3, pp. 311–330.

Trendler, D.  (2005)  Review of University of Wisconsin-Madison HadHatters, Friday After Class (2005).  In: Recorded A Cappella Review Board [online].  Available at:  (accessed: January 2007).

Turner, V.  (1969)  The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure.  Chicago: Aldine.

Williams, A.  (2013)  “Absorb and Diffuse: The Liminality of Recording Studio Practice.”  Paper delivered at the meeting of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, US Branch, Austin, Texas.

Zak, A.  (2001)  The Poetics of Rock: Cutting Tracks, Making Records.  Berkeley: University of California Press.

Discography and Videography

Best of College A Cappella.  CD, Varsity Vocals, annually, 1995–.

Folds, B., Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella!.  CD, Sony, 2009.

The Sing-Off!.  Television series, NBC, 2009–2011, 2013–.

Treblemakers [Boston University], “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” Live From a Cardboard Box. CD, [no label], 2008.  Originally by Stevie Wonder, Lee Garrett, Syreeta Wright, and Lula Mae Hardaway, vinyl, Tamla, 1970.

Pitch Perfect.  Directed by Jason Moore.  Film, Universal Pictures, 2012.

University of Wisconsin-Madison MadHatters, Friday After Class.  CD, [no label], 2005.