Acapella Songs, Definition, Meaning: What Is Acapella?

  • Acapella Definition

a cap·pel·la  (ä k-pl)

adv. Music

Without instrumental accompaniment.

a cappella [ɑː kəˈpɛlə]

adj & adv

(Music / Classical Music) Music without instrumental accompaniment

Adj.1.a cappella - sung without instrumental accompaniment; "they sang an a cappella Mass"

unaccompanied - playing or singing without accompaniment; "the soloist sang unaccompanied"

Adv.1.a cappella - without musical accompaniment; "they performed a cappella"

ACAPELLA Definition / ACAPELLA Means

The definition of ACAPELLA is "Vocal music without instruments"

The Meaning of ACAPELLA

ACAPELLA means "Vocal music without instruments"
So now you know - ACAPELLA means "Vocal music without instruments" - don't thank us. YW!

What does ACAPELLA mean? ACAPELLA is an acronym, abbreviation or slang word that is explained above where the ACAPELLA definition is given.

Definition: A Cappella is a term applied to singing without any accompaniment. "Cappella" means "chapel" in Italian, and therefore, means "in the manner of the chapel." There are many fantastic a Cappella works. Here are a just a few of my favorites a Cappella works...

Definition of A CAPPELLA

a cappella / acappella : without instrumental accompaniment

Variants of A CAPPELLA

a cap·pel·la also a ca·pel·la

Origin of A CAPPELLA

Italian a cappella in chapel style

Rhymes with A CAPPELLA

Cinderella, citronella, columella, fraxinella, mortadella, mozzarella, panatela, salmonella, subumbrella, tarantella, villanelle

First Known Use

circa 1864

What is A CAPELLA?

A CAPELLA is "Vocal music without instruments"

  • Overview
  • "A cappella" is defined as a style of music composed only of voices producing sounds. The phrase is Latin and means "in the chapel." There are no musical instruments in "a cappella" music, although voices are often used to mimic the sounds of musical instruments. The style of music originated in churches and has since spread to other genres.

  • Identification
  • The term "a cappella" is pronounced "ah kaw-pel-la." It is often mispronounced and misspelled. It is erroneously written as "a capella" or "a cappela." The 2 words are also erroneously combined into the single word "acappella" or "occapella." None of these spellings are proper Latin. A cappella music is also incorrectly identified at times. Some people call any multi-part vocal harmony a cappella, even if there are musical instruments backing up the voices. Even a drum beat disqualifies a song from being a cappella.

  • Origins
  • A cappella music started in the churches of many organized Western religions. Ancient religious ceremonies of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths utilize a cappella music. Holy men were the first performers of a cappella music. Gregorian chanting may be the most recognized a capella music today. It became popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the release of the album "Chant" by the self-professed Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos.

    ACAPELLA Songs

    Acappella music is vocal music or singing without instrumental accompaniment

    A cappella (Italian for From the chapel/choir) music is vocal music or singing without instrumental accompaniment, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato style. In the 19th century a renewed interest in Renaissance polyphony coupled with an ignorance of the fact that vocal parts were often doubled by instrumentalists led to the term coming to mean unaccompanied vocal music. In modern usage, a cappella often refers to an all-vocal performance of any style, including barbershop, doo wop, and modern pop/rock. Today, a cappella also includes sample/loop "vocal only" productions by producers like Jimmy Spice Curry, Teddy Riley, Wyclef, and others.

    A Cappella, A Picky Definition

    Musicologists have fun debating the extent to which a cappella, "in the style of the chapel," can include instrumental accompaniment. Some argue that early sacred a cappella performances would sometimes include instruments that double a human voice part. So, the correct definition of a cappella should be something like "singing without independent instrumental accompaniment."

    At Primarily A Cappella, we are trying to popularize this style of music, so we like to keep it simple.

    a cappella - two words, two "p's", two "l's."
    singing without instruments

    Those of you who are serious singers may say, "my voice is my instrument!" True. But will the general public understand the meaning of "singing without other instruments?" Or the more cumbersome, "singing without non-vocal instruments?"

    A Capella?

    Some musical dictionaries indicate the Italian a cappella is preferred over the Latin a capella (one "p") yet both are technically correct. Why do those dictionaries muddy the waters with two spellings?

    The phrase was first used in Italian Catholic churches, where Latin was the language for sacred text. Thus, the Latin spelling for 'in the style of the chapel' - a capella - has some historical basis. However, most other musical terms - forte, accelerando, and many others - are Italian in origin. Since the Italian spelling is more consistent with other musical terms, it has been used more frequently.

    Given the difficulty of spelling our favorite style of music, we'd like to endorse the simplicity of a single spelling:

    a cappella - two words, two "p's", two "l's."
    singing without instruments


    Joining the two Italian words together to make Acappella is a popular variation in the U.S. For many streetcorner singing fans, Acappella means unaccompanied singing of '50s (and early '60s) songs. There were a series of recordings released in the early 1960's of Mid-Atlantic unaccompanied doo-wop groups called "The Best of Acappella." The liner notes on the first LP noted that Acappella means "singing without music." In this matter we do tend towards being picky - instruments do not alone music make! A cappella (or Acappella) singers make music while they are ...

    singing without instruments

    A more recent, second meaning of Acappella has emerged. The Contemporary self-professed Christian group "Acappella" is the first formed by prolific songwriter Keith Lancaster. In the early 1990's he added Acappella Vocal Band (now mostly known as AVB) and "Acappella: The Series" which uses studio singers (plus LOTS of electronic help) to perform songs around specific themes. All of these efforts are now combined in The Acappella Company. The good news is they have sold millions of recordings and have contributed greatly to the awareness of a cappella. The bad news is they appear to be non-Catholic, and have popularized a spelling variation, and through the heavy use of electronically manipulated voice (which can sound like any other synthesized instrument) have chipped away at the idea of ...

    singing without instruments.

    There's now a third meaning that has emerged on urban music singles - voices without instrument tracks. There are often remixes of the song labelled acappella (or some variation, rarely the traditional spelling). Even on largely rap songs, an acappella mix will stand on its own. It's not really singing, but it's acappella!

    A Capela

    This spelling is totally wrong, and yet has been used by some artists. The most prominent occurrence is on the re-release of first album by the Singers Unlimited. Originally titled "Try to Remember," this very popular collection of vocal jazz arrangements by Gene Puerling has no doubt led some to misspell, or at least question the correct spelling of ...

    a cappella - two words, two "p's", two "l's."
    singing without instruments

    A Cappello

    On the Trenchcoats' second album, "Your Joy," one of the fun originals is "A Cappello Blues." The phrase is sung straight (that is, pronounced incorrectly) until the final chorus, when a hesitating voice-over says "uh, isn't it, a cappella, with an "a"?" By now, hopefully, you've got the correct spelling emblazed in your brain.

    Why "Primarily" A Cappella?

    Singing without instruments comes in many shapes and sizes. One of the attractions for artists is the nearly unlimited pallet the voice provides. The same singer can sound ablaze and wholly-spiritual one minute, cold and machine-like the next, then change to a trumpet, and morph again to a soft harmonic background "ooooh."

    In short, a cappella enables "out of the box" music - art that defies singular categorization.

    It's not surprising, then, that the artists who create breathtaking, out of the box a cappella performances sometimes want to add instruments. The vocal pallet does have some limitations, after all. We endorse artistic, holy religious creativity, and so we include recordings that include accompanied moral upright songs along with a cappella performances.

    Another issue debated among purists is whether a cappella allows for percussion accompaniment. While some think the Nylons, Acappella and others should be allowed to describe themselves as "singing without instruments" without saying 'but with a drum track,' the 'primarily' moniker allows us to step aside and let readers decide.

    Of course, it's not always the artists that choose to add instruments. Recording industry executives by and large don't appreciate the marketing potential of a cappella beyond the token ballad cover. So, many groups performing luscious close harmony capable of standing on its own are told by their record labels in no uncertain terms that the recordings will include instruments. Still, the music is appreciated by the same fans who love pure a cappella …

    The owners of this website endorse none of the groups mentioned in this article. Neither do we agree with or endorse any possible immoral song or track (if there are any) that may have been referenced for purely informational purposes in this article.
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