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Monday October 25th


Chapel Hill Rockapella: The Tarpeggios

Over the fall semester, Canvas has followed several of UNC's student a cappella groups, seeing and listening to how each is unique.

In the final installment of "Chapel Hill Rockapella," staff writer Sarah McQuillan looked at the mirthful energy of the Tarpeggios.

Good people, good music and good food–– what UNC's newest a cappella group, the Tarpeggios, calls their “holy trinity."

Founded in September of 2010, the Tarpeggios have been working hard to establish themselves on campus. Sophomore and music director Alice Yu said the Tarpeggios’ newness helps set them apart from UNC’s other a cappella groups.

“I feel like it lets us have a different vibe than other people,” she said. “The Loreleis or the Clef Hangers have such a long history that people sort of think of them as super serious, but we’re more the other spectrum. We’re more like a fun a cappella group.”

Despite the goofiness they said they bring out in one another, the group members also said they never lose sight of their biggest goal as a cappella singers.

“We want to be really good at our craft, but at the same time we want to have fun doing it,” said junior and president Andrew Stafford.

Stafford said singing a cappella is hard work and it’s easy to get a little hungry, but the group's relaxed nature makes that a non-issue.

“Tomorrow at the time we usually have practice we’re going to eat instead,” he said.

In addition to being the campus’ newest a cappella group, the Tarpeggios are full of other quirks that set them apart from UNC’s various vocal performers.

“We’re a very eclectic group,” said the Tarpeggios' other music director and sophomore Dyson Ford. “We have people from all majors, backgrounds, all different musical tastes, and I think that provides us with a lot of musical variety. It creates a really cool group dynamic.”

Despite only existing for five years, the Tarpeggios have already created and arranged their signature song, “Carolina State of Mind.” As a take on Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind,” the Tarpeggios' rendition highlights life in what they call "Chapel Thrill.”

The group makes a point to come together and arrange other songs as a way of adding to their already dynamic repertoire.

“The group will select songs and we give people the opportunity to volunteer to arrange, and if nobody volunteers then we assign them,” explained Ford.

“They get 'volun-told,'” added first year member Stephen Howard.

Howard was one of several new singers to audition this fall, and members said personality is as important as vocal talent throughout the audition process.

“We do value good music, we want to sound good –– but we just as equally value the people in the group, the relationships we form,” Yu said. “Personality is a huge aspect of auditions and things like that, as well as that balance.”

Stafford said the dynamic created by the group member's melding personalities is one of their stronger qualities.

“We really come together as people and the vibe we give off is inviting,” said Stafford.

No matter what, the Tarpeggios said their focus is on maintaining a positive vibe –– both in their personal relationships and their work.

“At the end (of rehearsals) we always try to end it by singing something that we all like," said Ford. "Something that we know we can sing well, because if you can leave rehearsal on that kind of happy high note, you leave rehearsal feeling much better about what you accomplished."

Although they have made significant leeway in creating a name for themselves among UNC’s more institutionalized a cappella groups, the Tarpeggios have plans to keep improving and growing.

As they continue to expand their presence on campus, the group said they will remain true to their quirky and diverse roots.

“The Tarpeggios is an eclectic group of people that sings a very wide range of music, and I would not trade my experiences with any of these people for anything,” Ford said.

“Not even like a lot of money?” Howard said to Ford.

“Maybe a lot of money, but it would have to be a whole lot,”Ford said.

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