In a world full of auto-tune and reverb, it is harder than ever to come by music in its least adulterated form. Yet concertgoers will have a chance to hear contemporary music without all the squeaky-clean production at the University of Wisconsin’s coed a cappella group Redefined’s spring show this Friday.
While many of the other singing groups on campus rely on support from either live musicians or backing tracks, Redefined uses nothing but vocals.
“We have no instruments, but we do have two beat-boxers,” Alec Hoge said. Hoge is a senior in the group and also its president. He takes pride in his role in the group and likes to point out that it is not like most a cappella collectives.
“Out of all the other [singing] groups except one, we’re the only coed group,” Hoge said. “Our sound is fairly similar to other a cappella groups but the kind of music we do is a lot more diverse in terms of the songs we use. I think we have a more full sound with guys and girls singing. There’s more you can do with both genders.”
Redefined also gives its members much more autonomy than many groups of a similar nature. Instead of leaders like Hoge picking out songs for the rest of the group to sing, members are encouraged to bring in their own favorite music to the shows. This format allows for a diverse song selection often absent from singing groups.
“What’s interesting about our group is that none of our members are music majors. So this is just something we do outside of schoolwork and just as a hobby. We just enjoy singing and making music together.”
Despite having no members pursuing music degrees, the singers write all of the arrangements themselves.
“If someone comes in with a song they like, they will arrange it, which is basically listening to it and splitting it up into four or more parts for the sections of our group. If we like it, we take it, print off the sheet music and memorize it,” Hoge said.
According to Hoge, arranging the music themselves means the group doesn’t have to buy it. This low-budget format allows the group to perform any song they want without constraints like paying for copyrighted sheet music.
“[The audience] can expect a very eclectic mix of music. We’re not going to be singing just one genre. We like to really make sure we hit every single part,” Hoge said. “There’s a guy in our group who will be singing a country song and then also rapping in a different song.”
Hoge added that there will be entertainment at the performance that won’t involve singing, though he was mum on the details to maintain the element of surprise.
“It’s not just a purely musical show. There will be audience participation, a video segment, stuff like that,” Hoge said, clarifying that the group was keeping details “close to the chest.”
“We’ll make sure it’s not just people sitting there staring up at us on a stage the entire time. We’ll make sure to make it fun for everybody that’s there,” Hoge said.
He has a fond relationship with Redefined and said when he leaves the group at the end of the year, he will be leaving one of his favorite college experiences.
“It’s given me the opportunity to travel a lot. I’ve met some lifelong friends that are in the group,” Hoge said. “We’re just a really close-knit group of people. It’s definitely enhanced my college experience a lot.”
Glee fans will be let down to hear that the friends in Redefined do not break out into harmonies while watching TV or drinking beers together.
“Maybe every once in a while a song might break out, but it’s not the kind of thing where we get together and then just sing all night together,” Hoge said. “We have practice for that.”
Redefined will be performing Friday at the Orpheum Theater at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the show are $15 general admission and $10 student admission.