On A Cappella

The history & what it is

whiffenpoofs

The original 1909 Yale Whiffenpoofs

A cappella music refers to vocal music performed without instrumental accompaniment. College a cappella generally covers groups that sprang from the tradition started by the Yale Whiffenpoofs in 1909. Groups typically have ten to twenty singers so that multiple voices cover each part, but are smaller than a typical chorus.

A cappella groups often sing in a horseshoe formation called the “shoe,” but with occasional choreography the look can be varied. Often soloists may step out and stand in front to sing, accompanied by the rest of the shoe. Unlike a typical chorus, the musical conductor of an a cappella group, often referred to as the “pitch,” does not stand in front of the center of the group with his or her back to the audience, but instead conducts while standing and singing in the shoe.

The styles of songs performed by a cappella groups can vary widely, from barbershop to jazz to contemporary rock to Christian to school songs. At Yale, 15 a cappella groups, including The Whiffenpoofs and Whim ‘n Rhythm, are members of the Singing Group Council. There are several female, male, and co-ed groups, and each group has its own style and repertoire. TUS

About Us

What is the SGC?

Woolsey Hall, the location of the Woolsey Hall Kick-Off Jam

Woolsey Hall, the location of the Woolsey Hall Kick-Off Jam

The Singing Group Council is a group of four dedicated senior Co-Chairs who work with the Yale administration and SGC affiliated groups to oversee the rush process. Every year the council consists of at least one co-chair from each of Yale’s all-senior a cappella groups, the Whiffenpoofs, and Whim ‘n Rhythm, and two co-chairs who have been members of other SGC affiliated groups.

In the spring preceding fall rush we coordinate with the administration to set the rush calendar and date for the Woolsey Jam. We revise or amend the rush rules and meet with representatives of all the groups to discuss any changes and finalize the rush calendar. During the fall semester, we work to assure that the rush process runs as smoothly as possible; from emceeing Woolsey and Dwight jams to authorizing the start of tap night, we act as an important resource for group members and rushees through the entirety of rush.

Later in the academic year we coordinate with the Yale administration for the large music concert during the Bulldog Days Bazaar for pre-freshmen and their families. We also serve as a liaison for the outside world seeking to get in touch with the world of Yale a cappella. We can be contacted at sgcchairlist@panlists.yale.edu.

The Co-Chairs

The 2017-2018 Singing Group Council Co-Chairs

Chainey Boroski

Out of the Blue

Sarah DiMagno

Whim 'n Rhythm / Proof of the Pudding

Kinsley McNulty

Shades

Daniel Keller

The Whiffenpoofs / Mixed Company

Rush

The Audition Process for Yale A Cappella

“Rush” is the name of the audition process for a cappella singing groups at Yale. While called by the same name, the rush process is different from a sorority or fraternity-style rush. It is usually about a month-long process of auditions, concerts, and meals, culminating in a “tap night,” when the new members of groups are selected. The process is designed to introduce interested singers to the wide spectrum of a cappella singing opportunities at Yale, as well as more in depth views of the style and repertoire of each group and the personalities of its members.

Rush FAQs
When can I first meet and hear these different groups?
The first event of Rush 2017 is the Woolsey Hall Kick-Off Jam, which takes place on Sunday, August 27th at 10:30 pm. At this event, all the groups sing a couple songs to highlight their different styles and sounds. This is an event which many members of the Yale community attend to cheer on their friends as well as listen to quality a cappella music. Attendance is free, so bring your friends!
How do I audition?
The Dwight Hall Sign-Up Jam (affectionately known as “Dwight”) is a second chance to hear all the  a cappella groups perform more songs and skits from their repertoire. It is held on the Wednesday night following the Woolsey Jam (August 30th) so that interested singers have time to reflect on the different performances they saw and heard at the previous jam.

Sign-ups for auditions immediately follow the end of the last performance at Dwight. Each group has a table alongside the walls of the room. Please sign up for an audition time and receive an audition card/materials from each group you would like to audition for. This sign-up process can sometimes get a little crazy, but if you stick around long enough you may witness a unique inter-group tradition.

I missed Dwight Jam, but I really want to audition! What do I do now?
If for some reason you miss the Dwight Sign-Up (you fell asleep, you lost track of time…) and are interested in auditioning, do not panic. You should use the links on our website to search any of the groups’ websites to contact their respective rush managers. Please note that auditions cannot be held after the Monday following Dwight Hall Jam, so please contact the rush managers of the groups you are interested in rushing ASAP.
I am not a First-Year student. Can I still audition?
Yes! Nearly every year several groups tap upperclassmen singers (Second-Year, Third-Year, and Fourth-Year students) into their groups. The only way to assure that you won’t be tapped is if you choose to not audition. So attend the Dwight Hall Jam and sign up!
Which groups can I audition for?
The Whiffenpoofs and Whim ‘n Rhythm each have separate audition processes in the spring open only to junior men and women respectively. Other than this, 14 other SGC-affiliated groups participate in the fall rush process, and auditions are open to all students. You may choose to audition for as many or as few of these groups as you choose to sign up for at the Dwight Hall Jam.

As a note, male rushees cannot be tapped by all-female groups and female rushees cannot be tapped by all-male groups. However, interested singers may still rush single-sex groups of the opposite sex to “practice audition” for other groups. The group members should treat you as regular rushee through your first audition.

When and where are auditions held?
Auditions are held in various locations across campus only during the weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) immediately following the Dwight Hall Jam. A complete listing of audition locations can be found on our homepage.
What is the audition process like?
Each group is a little different, so each audition may be a little different. However, the following general guidelines should hold true for any first audition.

Auditions typically last ten to fifteen minutes. In the audition, you will be asked to sing a solo (without accompaniment) of your choice. Groups will also ask you to do some interval, rhythm, and blending exercises and to learn a small excerpt of music.

In the spirit of rush, auditions are not meant to be intimidating in any way. Above all, don’t fret about your solo choice – anything that shows off your voice is great. Groups have heard everything from “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to “Umbrella” to “Memory” to “Se tu m’ami.”

Exactly what is a 'rush meal?'
After your audition, you may be scheduled for rush meals, where you will have the chance to eat and chat with some group members. These meals are meant to help rushees and group members get to know each other, and are not necessarily correlated to callback notifications. You will be scheduled for breakfast, lunch, or dinner in one of the Yale dining halls with one or more members of the group. Rush meals are not permitted outside of Yale Dining Halls.
What is a 'Singing Dessert?'
Every rushee of a group is invited to attend the group’s Singing Dessert, a group’s only full-length concert during the rush process. Here, groups present selections from their repertoire and serve hors d’oeuvres and desserts. Most singing desserts are either preceded by pre-parties or followed by after-parties, where you can hang out with members of the group, chat about the dessert, and get to know the members better. Alcohol is not permitted at Singing Dessert after-parties. For more information, see the rush rules (below). Invitations to Singing Desserts are delivered to rushees sometime after auditions.
Are there callback auditions?
Many groups choose to have callback auditions for rushees they are interested in hearing again. These callback auditions will only be held on the weekend following the last singing dessert. Each group runs its callbacks slightly differently, but generally these auditions are similar to, but slightly longer and more comprehensive than, the first auditions. If you are called back you should receive specific information as to what your callback will entail. If you have questions, please contact the rush manager of the group you are rushing for clarification.
When will I find out when I've been chosen by a group?
In the days following your callback audition, you may receive a “Tap Notification” from a group (or several groups). This “Tap Notification” is simply a heads-up that the group intends to tap you on Tap Night- a guarantee that the group will come to your door on Tap Night. “Tap Notifications” may be given on a legal Rush Meal, over the phone from a Rush Manager, or in an email from a Rush Manager. You are not expected to reply to this “Tap Notification” in any way- you may (and are encouraged) to make your final decision on Tap Night, and simply take your “Tap Notification” as what it is, a heads up! Each group is different however, and if you are not given a “Tap Notification” from a group you are rushing prior to Tap Night, you may still be tapped.

Tap Night is the end of the rush process. On this night, all the groups line up on Old Campus behind the High Street gate. Following a brief concert by Whim ‘n Rhythm and the Whiffenpoofs, at the drop of a broom the groups’ runners, with tap cups in hand, race towards the Old Campus dorms. The groups run all over campus to “tap,” or notify the rushees they would like to be members of this group. Rushees who will not be tapped will also be notified by the group before the end of tap night (12:30am).

Ceremonial “pre-tapping” of freshman (tapping them into the group before tap night, or giving a “Tap Notification” before the callback weekend is completed) is not permitted. If you are a freshman and think a group may be trying to pre-tap you, or gives you a tap notification before callbacks are complete, please let us know.

Do I have to decide which group to go with by tap night?
Most rushees do decide to go with a group that taps them on tap night, because it is a thrilling experience to run with the group, and brings great closure to a month long process. However, if you are feeling really unsure about your decision, you do not have to immediately decide to go with a group when they tap you. When a group asks you if you would like to be a member of their group, you have three possible responses: YES, NO, or MAYBE.

As soon as you say YES to a group, you are a member of that group. You may run with the group for the remainder of tap night, and cannot join any other group that may try to tap you unless you quit the group you said yes to and re-rush the other group in the next rush.

As soon as you say NO to a group, the group should no longer pursue you. You cannot become a member of that group unless you re-rush and are tapped by them again in the next rush.

If you say MAYBE to a group on tap night, they cannot actively pursue you after 12:30am, but you have until midnight on the Sunday following tap night to decide. No decision by this deadline is equivalent to NO. Also, if you say MAYBE to a group, but then choose to run with that group or attend its tap night after party, that is equivalent to saying YES.

What should I do if I have any more questions?
If you have any questions about rush policies, we suggest you read the rush rules. They are available on our site, or on the sites of any groups you are rushing. If you have any questions about when rush events occur, please see the rush calendar. If you have any further group-specific questions, please contact one of the rush managers of that group. However, feel free to contact us at any time. We will do our best to help!
Rush Rules

Click to download PDF

Rules for Rush 2015

Member Groups

SGC Groups

Click to go to their official websites
Group Descriptions (Alphabetical)

The Alley Cats [All-Men]

On a brisk autumn night in 1943, our founding fathers climbed to the top of Saybrook Tower and serenaded campus with our traditional opening number, “Sally in Our Alley.”  Since then, as Yale’s classiest a cappella group, the Cats have created over 300 original arrangements ranging from jazz standards to motown, from timeless oldies to contemporary chart-toppers. We have released several dozen albums, held seventy-four annual Champagne Jamborees, and performed for public figures such as President Obama, her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Martha Stewart, and Jay Leno.  In true Cat fashion, as the first Yale a cappella group to tour internationally, we continue to bring our unique brand of refined all-male sound, stylistic expertise, and witty charm to destinations around the world.  In our seventy-fifth season, with tours to Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Eastern Europe, and the Netherlands in the works for this year, it has truly never been a better time to be a member of the Alley Cat family.  Join this storied tradition, and share with us an incredible experience of history, unforgettable friendship, travel, and, in the words of Aretha Franklin, “Mm-mmm delicious” music!  And remember: like those who came before you have learned, once a Cat, always a Cat.

 The Baker’s Dozen  [All-Men]

The Baker’s Dozen is Yale’s most fun-loving male singing group. Founded in 1947, the Baker’s Dozen is a family of men who share a passion for music and good times. We bring our boundless energy to audiences all over the world. In recent years, the group has sung for orphaned schoolchildren in Puerto Rico, performed our National Anthem for 20,000 fans at the Lakers’ home court in Los Angeles, sung for the Academy Award Offices in Hollywood, and appeared on the Martha Stewart Show on national television. Our alumni are our extended family with whom we enjoy reunions several times a year on campus and on tours. The BD experience is more than just singing – come by the BD house to see what we are all about. BDs ATB.

 The Duke’s Men  [All-Gender]

No one’s quite sure how it happened. Some say that Basil Duke Henning, then-”master” of Saybrook College, stole an arrangement the Whiffenpoofs. Others say he commissioned a friend to compose the piece for his new group, and it was the Whiffs who stole it later. Whichever story you believe, Basil Duke Henning taught a song to four of his eager students way back in 1952, and the Duke’s Men have been singing ever since. Since then, “da doox” have grown to nearly 400 members and sung from coast to coast and around the world, from the busy streets of England to the mountains of Colombia, from the neon lights of Japan to the rivers of Turkey, and to our hometowns across the country and around the globe. ​I​n keeping with our goals to create music that reflects our community, and in effort to create space in the a cappella community for trans and non-binary folks, we ​now ​invite all singers, regardless of sex or gender identity, to join us in the years ahead as an all-gender TTBB group. Join us as we push the boundaries of live and recorded music, and ​stick around for the passionate spirit, eclectic repertoire, and unforgettable experiences that define the Duke’s Men of Yale!

 Living Water  [All-Gender]

Founded in 1979 by several inspired Whiffenpoofs, Living Water is Yale’s one and only Christian a cappella group. Today, Living Water’s repertoire brings together alternative rock, hymns, indie, and gospel in a number of languages—including English, Italian and Spanish—to bring audiences a powerful and passionate performance. Through music, we hope to touch the heart of God, as well as the hearts of His people, by communicating His love and His glory in worship. During annual tours to at least one of our members’ hometowns, we seek to serve the communities of our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as to appreciate the communities that have shaped who they are today. The deep friendships formed in Living Water spur every member towards musical, emotional, and spiritual growth. We can’t wait to welcome our newest tap class!

 Mixed Company  [All-Gender]

Founded originally in 1981 as both an a cappella and stand-up comedy group, Mixed Co has long been considered one of the most eclectic groups on campus. This comes at no surprise since our first arrangement was called “Taco Ball Cannon.” Yes, you read that right. Although Mixed Co is no longer a comedy group, and that song has long left our repertoire, our funky and creative core still shows today. The group focuses on modern musical styles of pop, funk, classical rock, R&B, jazz, and musical theater. Mixed Co prides itself on musicianship, unique and powerful soloists, a fun group dynamic, and the ancient cursed diamond scepter that we own but are too afraid to use after what happened last time. The group also has both domestic and international tours every year, having traveled to Brazil, China, Florida, New Zealand, Colombia, Bermuda, and California in recent years. We are incredibly excited for the newest members of Mixed Co and can’t wait to sing with them for the next four years!

 The New Blue  [All-Women]

In the fall of 1969, a group of new Yalies set out to revolutionize a cappella music. They brought a new and powerful tool to the table: the female voice. These eleven pioneering women founded The New Blue, Yale’s first women’s a cappella group and oldest women’s organization of any kind. Today, The New Blue is still defined by its innovative musical spirit, with a dynamic repertoire including everything from current pop and classic rock to folk and jazz standards. A deep alto bassline, soaring soprano descants, intricate harmonies, and an entirely self-arranged rep make New Blue’s sound especially distinctive. The group regularly embarks on both domestic and international tours (this year we’re heading to Northern California and Southeast Asia) and records a new album every other year (check out our most recent album, Exit Four, on Spotify). Whether we’re belting Adele, beat-boxing to Andra Day, or dancing to Taylor Swift for elementary school students or President Barack Obama, The New Blue of Yale always has a great time.

 Out of the Blue  [All-Gender]

Out of the Blue is Yale University’s award-winning contemporary a cappella group. Founded in 1986 by students determined to create a new brand of Yale a cappella, Out of the Blue (OOTB, pronounced OOT-bah) is known for its high energy arrangements, powerful soloists, and electric performance style. The group entertains global audiences of all ages with a powerful and dynamic repertoire that spans a variety of genres, including current and classic pop, rock, folk, and alternative.

Whether they’re touring countries around the world, winning titles at the International Competition of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCAs), or watching a movie together in a college basement, OOTB is a family of musicians that loves spending time together on- and off-stage. This year, OOTB looks forward to traveling to Colombia, celebrating our 30th anniversary jam, and, most of all, welcoming this year’s tap class.

 Pitches & Tones  [All-Gender]

In an age long past, the founding members of Pitches & Tones braved the icy peaks of the Himalayas in a fateful search for the Spirit of Music. Arduously they quested, braving the elements and countless powerful foes, until finally they met the fabled Man of the Mountains who, holding up a mirror to illustrate the gag, revealed to them that the Spirit of Music had been inside them all along. It was then that Pitches & Tones invented a cappella. Tragically, the only existing musical genre at the time was Baroque, so the founders were forced to make a solemn decision. They traveled hundreds of years into the future to 2011, which is nominally the year of Pitches’ founding in the same way that the nominal interest rate ignores key information about inflation: it is a meaningless metric.

Today, Pitches & Tones, the newest member of the SGC, performs entirely member-arranged songs covering a variety of genres, including Pop, Rock, R&B, Traditional, Jazz, and more. Just not the Dave Matthews Band. Never him. So help us carry on a tradition that has persisted since time immemorial and come join the Pitches family! We can’t wait to sing with you for the next four years until the day finally comes that you strike us down and take our place. For only then will the cycle be complete.

 Proof of the Pudding  [All-Women]

Just six years after women were first admitted to Yale, our founders decided to shake up the school’s still male-dominated a cappella scene by forming a new women’s group, Proof of the Pudding. We continue to embody the passion and spirit of the ladies of ‘75 and open and close each concert with traditional songs to pay homage to our roots as we move towards a modern repertoire with a jazzy twist. We’re always expanding our repertoire, which now includes songs like Billy Joel’s “The Lon­gest Time,” and “Another Day of Sun,” from the movie La La Land. No matter the song, Proof has a timeless sound and energetic style that have taken us places such as China, India, and the United Kingdom. This year, we’ll be traveling to the nation’s “Windy City”, Chicago, and soaking up the sun in San Francisco. In addition, we look forward to doing some great gigs and – most importantly – welcoming next year’s tap class!

 Redhot & Blue  [All-Gender]

In 1977, Redhot & Blue revolutionized Yale a cappella by bringing men and women together. Born out of two talented women and a group of former Whiffenpoofs who saw great opportunity in coeducation, Redhot brought a lush, layered sound to the campus a cappella scene for the very first time. Yale has never been the same.

Today, Redhot maintains its long-standing traditions of top musical quality and close friendship. Hailed by the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (CASA) as “one of the nation’s most consistently excellent mixed collegiate a cappella groups,” Redhot continues to break down the boundaries of a cappella music with sensational arrangements from jazz classics to contemporary standards. When we’re not singing, we’re grabbing late night pizza at Yorkside, organizing snowball fights on Old Campus, or even hitting up dance clubs in Hong Kong!

For some members, it’s the group’s complex sound and musicality that make Redhot special. For others, it’s the lifelong friendships forged in rehearsals, on plane rides across the world, or over countless late-night desserts. But for most, it’s a combination of both – making Redhot & Blue such a unique and essential part of our time at Yale.

 Shades  [All-Gender]

The youngest group in the SGC, Shades was founded in 1988 at the freshman pre-orientation program now known as Cultural Connections to add diversity to Yale’s a cappella offerings. With a grounding in music of the African Diaspora and the African-American tradition, Shades’ repertoire ranges from traditional spirituals and gospel, to jazz, soul, contemporary R&B and hip-hop. In the years since its inception, Shades has expanded into an innovative vocal ensemble with time-honored traditions, including an annual Valentine’s Day Jam and an annual tour to schools in the Boston community, and a mission to offer unique, musically excellent, and spiritually enriching performance experiences to audiences around the world. In recent years, the group has traveled to destinations such as South Africa, Costa Rica, Ireland, Japan, and China. Shades has performed for notables such as Lenny Kravitz, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Nelson Mandela, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and had recently been invited to the White House to sing for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. We are very excited for the upcoming year and we can’t wait to get DOWN with the new members of the Shades family! Happy Rushing!

 The Society of Orpheus and Bacchus  [All-Men]

On All Hallows’ Eve in 1938, twelve of the sweetest voices at Yale converged on Mory’s Temple Bar to form an a capella group unlike any other, invoking the talents of Orpheus, minstrel to Olympus, and the legacy of Bacchus, god of revelry. Since that fateful night, the Society of Orpheus and Bacchus has seamlessly fused the ancient traditions of music and revelry with the hip attitude of every rock band that has ever made thousands of teenage girls scream for an encore. The SOBs boast 75 years’ worth of arrangements—from traditional Yale songs to jazz and blues standards, from original compositions to straight-up rock and roll. Whether in an English manor, at the beach in Puerto Rico, or on campus at our annual Bacchanal and Jamboree, every SOB performance is memorable and unique. After an incredible 75th anniversary year, we SOBs are thrilled to begin rush and tap the newest class of neophytes into our distinguished society.

 Something Extra [All-Women]

Something Extra is Yale’s premier all-women a cappella group. Affectionately known as “SE” by both members and campus at-large, Something Extra was founded in 1977 and carries on 40 years worth of musical excellence. Today, SE’s repertoire is exclusively self-arranged and comprised of a diverse mix of pop, jazz, indie, alternative rock, and classic oldie throwbacks – as can be heard on Something Extra’s album to be released in spring 2018! The group tours throughout North America regularly, but has also made appearances in Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean, and most recently returned from London, Florence, and Rome. Known for its powerful soloists, tight harmonies, and statement red gloves, Something Extra is proud to maintain its dedication to exceptional music, constant innovation, and lasting sisterhood.

 The Spizzwinks(?)  [All-Men]

One fateful night in 1914, four Yale freshmen convened in Mory’s Temple Bar with a singular mission: to reinvent a cappella singing and provide a lighthearted and generally more hilarious alternative to the stodgy Whiffenpoofs. A few cups and many toasts later, the Yale Spizzwinks(?) were born. Armed with their signature blend of musicianship and tongue-in-cheek humor and guided by their inspiring mantra – We Ride, For Ride We Must – the newly christened Spizzwinks set out to entertain the masses. In the century since, generations of ‘Winks have charmed audiences all across the globe, recently gracing venues that include Madison Square Garden and the US State Department. In this, our one hundred-fourth year, the Spizzwinks(?) will continue our intercontinental journey, exploring, among other exotic locales, the towering mountains of South America, the bustling markets of Morocco, and the thriving metropolises of South Africa. So don your tails and join our musical Brothership, one hundred and three years in the making, and declare proudly alongside the many generations of ‘Winks before and those still to come, “We Ride, For Ride We Must!”

 The Whiffenpoofs  [All-Men]

Every year, fourteen senior Yale men are selected to be the Whiffenpoofs, the world’s oldest and most famous a cappella group. Founded in 1909, the “Whiffs” began as a senior quintet that met for weekly concerts at Mory’s Temple Bar, the renowned Yale tavern and club. Today, the group has become one of Yale’s most celebrated and hallowed traditions, carrying on almost a century of musical excellence and professional showmanship at Yale, across America, and around the world. Each Whiffenpoof group maintains a busy performance schedule throughout the year, records an album, and circles the globe on a six-continent world tour. Audiences have included such notable figures as Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush, the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, and fans at Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, the Rose Bowl, the World Series, Saturday Night Live, Gilmore Girls, and The West Wing.

 Whim ‘n Rhythm  [All-Women]

In 1981, seven Yale women came together to create what had long been absent from Yale’s a cappella tradition: a senior women’s singing group. Today, Whim ‘n Rhythm has achieved world renown and culminates each year with an international tour, annually frequenting Japan, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Thailand and much more. Delighting audiences from Maine to Hong Kong, from Club Med to the White House, the 14 women of Whim ‘n Rhythm bring professional musicianship, a strong spirit, and an elegant presence to every performance. From upbeat jazz standards and classic show tunes to contemporary pop favorites and traditional ballads, Whim’s diverse repertoire appeals to a wide variety of musical tastes. Come hear Whim ‘n Rhythm at Mory’s Temple Bar every other Wednesday!

Events Calendar

Upcoming A Cappella Concerts and Events

Contact Us

Got Questions?

If you have any questions about a cappella at Yale, the rush process, or to report a rush violation, please email us. You may also contact us individually:

 

Chainey Boroski
Sarah DiMagno
Daniel Keller
Kinsley McNulty

(304) 218-3334
(402) 802-2555
(914) 523-4321
(914) 584-0454