21 May 2017

Naked Voices: an a cappella half hour

From New Horizons, 5:00 pm on 21 May 2017

Why does the sound of voices in harmony make such a direct pathway to the heart and soul?

Pene Pati, Grant O'Connor, Dudley Benson, Moses McKay and Jeffrey Chang recording Dudley's a cappella album 'Forest'.

Pene Pati, Grant O'Connor, Dudley Benson, Moses McKay and Jeffrey Chang recording Dudley's a cappella album 'Forest'. Photo: by Josh Thomas, courtesy Dudley Benson

An episode of TVNZ's The Naked Choir didn't have this effect on William Dart, but it did inspire him to hunt out his favourite a cappella music.

In this half hour, you'll hear one of the most popular acts at this year's Womad Festival – South African band The Soil, who first met in a classroom jam session – and the American group Chanticleer turn their talents to a shimmering version of Kurt Weil's 'Lost in the Stars'.

Gene Puerling, who sometimes arranges Chanticleer, also sings with the Hi-Los, whose version of a 1946 ballad by Walter Gross and Jack Lawrence delivers spine-tingling harmonies and sweet crushing dissonances that William enjoys.

Dunedin singer Dudley Benson's version of Hirini Melbourne's 'Pipi Manu E' features his own voice, a male vocal quartet, a beatboxer and assorted bird calls and whistles and San Francisco group The Bobs put the 'helter' into The Beatles' 'Helter Skelter'.

You'll also hear the rough, uncluttered two-part singing of The Copper Family from Sussex in a 1951 BBC recording and vocal quartet The Persuasions – who were discovered by Frank Zappa – relaxing into an old Drifter's classic.

The Soil - "Joy" video still

The Soil - "Joy" video still Photo: Native Rhythm Records

Music Details

'Song title' (Composer) – Performers
Album title

'Lost in the Stars' (Weill arr Puerling) – Chanticleer
Lost in the Stars

'Tenderly' (Gross/Lawrence) – The Hi-Lo's
The Hi-Lo's Volume Two
(Entertain Me)

'Pipi Manu E' (Melbourne) – Dudley Benson
Forest: Songs by Hirini Melbourne
(Golden Retriever)

'The Brisk and Bonny Lad' (Trad) – The Copper Family
Come Write Me Down

'The Foxhunt' (Trad) – The Young Tradition
So Cheerfully Round

'Two Studies Op 39' (Goossens) – Jeremy Filsell
Goossens Piano Music

'Rosebud in June' (Trad) – Steeleye Span
Below the Salt

'Up on the Roof' (King/Goffin) – The Persuasions

'Helter Skelter' (Lennon/McCartney) – The Bobs
Sing the Songs of…

'Joy' (The Soil) – The Soil
The Soil
(Native Rhythms)

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