Finding the perfect pitch

Feb 27, 2019 | Culture, Music

O n a Saturday afternoon, sunlight shines through the clear glass window placed 15 feet above the ground, surrounded by a sphere of lockers—the perfect acoustics for a cappella; space amplifies the harmonious crescendo of voices. Melodies flow, and the singers are wrapped in their music.

After a day-long vocal workshop on Saturday with Deke Sharon—the legendary musical arranger of Pitch Perfect, a movie about collegiate a cappella groups starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson—the Nueva Soundwaves performed several songs and mashups including classics such as “Imagine” by John Lennon and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by the Tokens. 

Black curtains were set up around several rows of chairs in the Café, and the informal 

performance lasted around 40 minutes in front of families and friends.

The Soundwaves sang compositions by group member Jenna Lange (12), who arranged a mashup of Christina Perri’s “Human” and Kesha’s “Praying.”

Although Lange has little experience with composition and music theory, she enjoys experimenting by listening to songs and writing down notes, and she arranges most of her songs by ear. Lange observed that Sharon gave “extraordinary, thoughtful feedback” and was deeply passionate about how music brings people together.

He has a way of looking at a group and knowing not only what they need to focus on, but exactly how to help them get there,” Lange said.

 

“In a world which calls for harmony and compelling singing, my mission is to inspire the new generation to create interpersonal harmony”

Deke Sharon

Musician and Musical Arranger

Commonly referred to as the “father of contemporary a cappella,” Sharon is a singer, arranger, composer, producer, and teacher. A Bay Area local, he attended San Francisco’s Town School for Boys, and sang in the San Francisco Boys Chorus.

“In a world which calls for harmony and compelling singing, my mission is to inspire the new generation to create interpersonal harmony,” Sharon stated. His goal is to help people find harmony as he believes that everyone can sing.

Similarly, Cathy Doyle, the teacher of the Soundwaves, believes that singing is essential to a well-rounded life.

Similarly, Cathy Doyle, the teacher of the Soundwaves, believes that singing is essential to a well-rounded life.

“My goal is to both support those trying [singing] out and challenge those who are ready to work at a higher or more intense level while helping each student find his or her own voice,” Doyle said. “I love working with intelligent, creative, energetic students and feel like the level of work I do at Nueva is similar to working in a conservatory.”

The Soundwaves cover a variety of music catered to the students’ interest and requests for a specific style or composer.

“I love the range of music that we are able to explore. So many of the pieces we have [worked on] are songs that I would have never come across,” said Anya Patel (9), one of the newer members of the group. “I also love putting together the different choral parts because they come together so beautifully.”

“The challenge is that students have so many courses and electives to juggle that participating for longer than required to check off a UC elective requirement is very difficult” – Cathy Doyle

Moving forward, Doyle hopes to see a beginning choir in addition to the advanced one. She strives to have a “newbies” club to meet and rehearse, a beginning class for students who don’t have experience in singing (or male students learning to use their deeper post-puberty voices), and in general, more time carved out to support the students.

“Working on setting voicing ahead of time, rather than just by who signs up, would be great,” Doyle suggested. Voicing is the musical concept which refers to the ordering and spacing of the notes, for different parts in the harmony.

Doyle and many other students desire a more robust music program.

 The Soundwaves have come a long way since their establishment as a club in 2015 with just six members. Currently, there are nine members of the elective and 29 students in the club, with hope for more growth in the years to come.

They have two more performances left in the year, including one involving a joint concert with the Nueva MS String Ensemble on March 29 and a more informal set-up on Arts Culmination Night. The Soundwaves, along with instrumentalists in grades 2–9 will have a performance featuring the music of Mozart, Pachelbel, Vivaldi, and more!

Written by Mira D.

Written by Mira D.

Staff Writer