Students in tune

    Behind the shadow cast by science and engineering, three powerhouse groups are waiting to have their voices heard – literally.

    Sanh Luong/Guardian
    The Tritones perform at the Nikkei Student Union’s NSU Culture Show 2007 on April 27.

    The Tritones, the Daughters of Triton and the Beat are the only acappella groups on campus. Collegiate acappella dates back to 1909, when the first male acappella ensemble, the Whiffenpoofs, was founded at Yale University. To date, more than 1,200 groups exist across the country.

    “”Acappella is different than any other kind of performing art I’ve been involved in,”” John Muir College junior and Beat member Dana Rueckert said. “”There is an intimacy in acappella music that doesn’t exist anywhere else. You have to have complete faith in every singer around you, or your group can’t succeed.””

    The Tritones were the first co-ed acapella group established on campus, founded in 1996. They were the only group until the formation of the all-female D.O.T.S. during the fall of 2000.

    Two years ago, in the fall of 2005, three ambitious men put together the newest co-ed acappella group and labeled it the Beat. The Tritones co-hosted the D.O.T.S.’ first concert in 2003, and the D.O.T.S. co-hosted the Beat’s first concert in 2006.

    Instead of competing, the three groups coexist with great ease, forming their own kind of acappella fraternity.

    “”We perform with the D.O.T.S. and the Tritones all the time,”” said Pei Kuo, an Earl Warren College junior and president and co-founder of the Beat. “”The acappella community at UCSD is relatively small, and we understand that we have to support each other to establish it further.””

    The groups have a surprising repertoire of music ranging from “”You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling”” by the Righteous Brothers to “”Fergalicious”” by Fergie with additional songs in the country, jazz and even rap genres.

    Though they perform together at many events, each group practices on its own for a few hours a day, several days a week.

    The Beat start their practices with warmup drills as a way to focus the group on a common goal. They talk about business and upcoming shows and then start singing.

    “”We try to keep it light, and we’ll move from song to song whenever we notice the energy of the room dipping,”” Kuo said.

    Each group performs by request and hosts their own shows. The Tritones host four shows per year, including a spring amphitheater show at Warren and their biannual shows at Porter’s Pub. The D.O.T.S. host the annual Acappellooza show, while the Beat host a fall and spring concert.

    Acappella work requires an extreme amount of dedication, and the groups require auditions for new members, though experience is not necessarily required.

    “”I think a big misconception about acappella groups in general is that you need a vast vocal background,”” Kuo said. “”We have members that were in the band and musicals, and didn’t even sing in high school.””

    Still, most of the singers are passionate about music.

    “”For most of us, the Tritones is not the only thing we do musically,”” said Jackie Liebl, an Eleanor Roosevelt College junior and Tritones member. “”I am vocal director for the Muir Musical this year. Music is a passion. It isn’t something you can just do as an extracurricular activity. It’s a lifestyle.””

    With all of the talent and dedication wrapped up in these three acappella groups, it is hard to imagine that they are as unkown as they seem to be.

    “”Science and tradition are two reasons that there may not be as much support and excitement as there should be,”” Kuo said. “”The Tritones are the oldest group on campus. Compare that with the schools on the East Coast that have groups that are 90 years old, and you can see why I mention tradition.””

    With that growing fan base, the dedication level of the group members has increased along with the fellowship, creating a strong bond between the vocalists within the groups.

    “”You have to be able to read one another and understand every song on a deeper level or you just broach mediocrity,”” Rueckert said. “”Being awesome at acappella requires being close to the songs and the people around you. We have been really fortunate to have grown together and through the music throughout the year.””

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