The Swingle Singers

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In 1963, around the time the Beatles became popular in the United States, I began listening to the radio, and occasionally I’d hear a jazzy vocal arrangement of a Bach piece, like this one:

In Paris in 1962, a musician named Ward Swingle assembled a group of fine vocalists who sang lush arrangements of Baroque repertoire with no or minimal instrumentation, often just a drum set and string bass, using jazz techniques such as syncopated rhythms and scatting. When I was in my high school chorus, we sang one of their arrangements, maybe this one:

Bach, Sleepers Awake:

I recently googled The Swingle Singers and discovered that they are still performing and recording. The makeup of the group has changed, with new singers auditioning every time a vacancy occurred. Here are some of their more recent work.

Piazzolla’s Libertango:

Beatles’ Blackbird/ I Will:

Ciao, Bella, ciao is an Italian song that was featured in a Korean movie, Han Gong Ju:

Narnia:

Mozart: Rondo Alla Turca:

William Tell Overture:

Peter Gunn theme music:

Mozart Symphony No. 40:

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

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