A Cappella

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A Cappella


polyphonic singing, primarily choral, without instrumental accompaniment. It is widely used in folk music.

A cappella choir singing took definite shape in religious polyphony during the late Middle Ages, flowered in the work of the Renaissance composers of the Netherlands, and received its classical expression in the Roman school—for example, in the work of the Italian composer G. Palestrina. All choir music in the Orthodox Church is sung a cappella—for instance, the works of the composer D. S. Bortnianskii. Beginning with the Renaissance, a cappella singing developed in secular choral music as well as in church music, particularly in such genres as the madrigal in vocal chamber music. Many contemporary choral works are written a cappella—for instance, ten revolutionary poems arranged for choir by D. D. Shostakovich.


Handschin, J. Die Grundlagen des a-cappella-Stils. Zurich, 1929.