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a cappella

[ah kuh-pel-uh; Italian ah kahp-pel-lah] /ˌɑ kəˈpɛl ə; Italian ˌɑ kɑpˈpɛl lɑ/
adverb, adjective, Music.
1.
without instrumental accompaniment.
2.
in the style of church or chapel music.
Origin
1875-1880
1875-80; < Italian: in the manner of a chapel (choir)
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for a cappella

a cappella

/ɑː kəˈpɛlə/
adjective, adverb
1.
(music) without instrumental accompaniment
Word Origin
Italian: literally, according to (the style of the) chapel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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a cappella in Culture
a cappella [(ah kuh-pel-uh)]

Choral singing performed without instruments. The expression means “in chapel style” in Italian. Centuries ago, religious music composed for use in chapels — which, unlike large churches, had no organs — was usually for voices only.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for a cappella

(Italian: "in the church style"), performance of a polyphonic (multipart) musical work by unaccompanied voices. Originally referring to sacred choral music, the term now refers to secular music as well.

Learn more about a cappella with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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