Whether or not you are a singer, listening to a cappella (unaccompanied voices) music can be a great way to develop your musical listening skills.

Include a cappella music in your ear training and you’ll become more sensitive to pitch, harmony and timbre. Why?

The power of the voice

The human hearing system has naturally developed over thousands of years to be particularly attuned to the human voice. Speaking, shouting or singing, the human voice has a powerful effect on us in a way that no other instrument can manage.

This means that music consisting solely of human voices tends to engage our ears in a particularly effective way. As you practice active listening you may find it easier to pay careful attention when the music in question is a cappella.

If you find 4-piece rock bands get a bit boring to listen to, or you find your usual genre of choice doesn’t leave much to be discovered on repeat listening, try a cappella. You may well find your ears perk up like never before!

Rich and varied harmonies

Although a cappella music crosses all genres and styles of music, there is one thing that most characterises wonderful a cappella music: harmony.

The way the voices in an a cappella or barbershop group work together, blending and contrasting, creating and releasing harmonic tension, painting amazing soundscapes… there’s nothing quite like it!

It’s one thing to do harmony ear training with clear simple sounds like piano notes or guitar chords. It’s quite another to listen to a professional a cappella group expertly control their pitches to move from one chord to another, creating a harmonic journey far more subtle and sophisticated than other