The musical term a capella “ah-kuh-pel-uh” means “without accompaniment.” In some churches, the choir sings without an organ or other instrumental accompaniment, i.e, they sing a capella. An a capella performance is entirely vocal.
College glee clubs (choral groups) and barbershop quartets sing a capella.
The Anonymous Four is a well-known singing group of four women who sing without instrumental accompaniment.
You can hear an example of a capella singing at the site of another women’s a capella group: AKSARA
I love the Literacy Capsules and certainly understand the need to keep them short and simple. Keep ’em coming, Maeve. 🙂
Good point about a capella coming from “chapel.”
I’m trying to keep the literacy capsules as simple as possible. For the most part they will present bare-bones explanations of current usage without a lot of background. Sometimes I’ll link them to more detailed explanations of the sort you have so kindly provided.
This phrase came up just last week when my friend and I went to a restaurant called “La Cappella” in Fox Chapel, PA. Translated from Italian, La Cappella (note the two p’s, unlike the Latin version with one p), the restaurant’s name means “The Chapel.”
Literally speaking, a capella (also a cappella, acappella, and a capela) means “in the manner or style of the church/chapel,” though the practical and widely accepted meaning is “without accompaniment.”
Just sayin’ …. 🙂