By MARY BURGER – STAFF WRITER
COMMON TIME TELLS STORIES THROUGH SONGS BUT HAS A STORY OF ITS OWN TO TELL
Singing a cappella, or with the absence of musical instruments, has probably existed since humans first realized that the voice could be used in a melodious manner. Nowadays, it continues to be a popular form of musical expression. Groups of a cappella singers have becoming ever-more popular, such as the male vocalist group Straight No Chaser and those featured on NBC’s show The Sing-Off. There was even a recent hit movie that focused on these ensembles on college campuses. But before there was Pitch Perfect, there was Common Time.
Common Time is Centre’s own a cappella group, founded by Jacob Raderer in 2009. Raderer, who now works in the Residence Life Office, graduated from Centre in 2009 as a music major. Part of the major requires a final project or recital. As a way to fulfill this class requirement, he decided to bring a cappella to campus.
Raderer asked various people, some from choirs and some recommended to him, to help bring his idea to life. The final half of Raderer’s recital was the introduction of Common Time. The name of the group comes from a play-on-words. In musical theory, common time is the time signature of 4/4, in which four beats are present in every measure of the music. It also played upon the time chosen for rehearsal, which was during common hour. Being traditional Centre students, members had little free-time and elected to use common hour as rehearsal time.
As an a cappella group, Common Time is able to include a variety of contemporary music into their set list. The original repertoire included the songs “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something, “We Will Rock You” by Queen, and “Africa” by Toto. The group is also co-ed, allowing for more flexibility in song choice.
The group is not an official ensemble, but rather student led. The only time a member of staff was heavily involved in decision-making was the fall after the group’s conception. Raderer worked at Centre as the Area Coordinator post-graduation and helped the group find its footing. Since then, the group has grown and been guided by the members themselves.
There are currently 12 members in the group. The first performance of the year was during Family Weekend; however, they also perform randomly throughout the year. A popular time for performances is during finals week while students are taking part in some of the stress-relieving activities, such as a late-night breakfast.
Common Time typically arranges a Valentine’s Day performance. At this performance, students can hire the group to sing to a loved-one in Cowan or at another campus location. The current repertoire includes a variety of songs, including “The Longest Time” by Billy Joel, “Somebody that I Used to Know” by Gotye, and “Afternoon Delight” by Starland Vocal Band.
As for Raderer, he enjoys the idea of various mash-ups for the group. During the 2009-2010 academic year, the group performed a Lady Gaga mash-up that was arranged by a group member.
“I like the idea of seeing the group perform the 90’s boy bands with a Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC mashup,” Raderer said. “That would be pretty cool.”
Junior Claire Philips has been a member of Common Time since her first year at Centre.
“I enjoy the group because it is a more casual atmosphere than choir class but gives students an opportunity to hang out with friends,” Philips said.
Junior Parker Leonard, another member of the singing group, said his favorite part of Common Time is simply “performing songs that people like to hear and seeing their faces when they hear something they know.”