I discovered the existence of The Naturals by accident. At work a couple of months ago, I was following along with the live Twitter feed for MU Mania, which was a showcase of all of Marquette’s entertainment groups. I was familiar with every group but the Naturals. But once I saw a friend tweet that the group was a bow tie-wearing, all-male a capella group, I was intrigued. I have always wanted to know how an a capella group arranges its songs, so I decided to look into it.
After contacting the group, one of its members invited me to sit on a practice so I could film. The practice involved all the guys running through songs in their repertoire. Many terms used in their practice were Italian musical terms. A tip for anyone who ever sits in on an a capella practice: If members of the group talk about "Barry," they are likely referring to someone singing baritone, not a guy named Barry.
Chris Hardin is one of the arrangers for The Naturals. Hardin has taken music theory most of his life, but this is the first semester he has started to arrange for his group. Once Hardin has a song picked out, he looks up other a capella arrangements of that song on YouTube. Then, he can use that version for comparison when he enters in his own version of the song into a musical arrangement program on his computer. He will often refer back to the original when writing his own version.
“[I] take bits and pieces to make something original from that,” Hardin said. He says that current computer software makes it easy for him to create his own original piece.
He compares arranging a song to writing a paper; he likes to have another arranger look over his work to see if there are any mistakes.
“It’s really like writing a paper,” said Hardin. “When you have someone else look at it, mistakes are a lot more obvious.”
At the time of the interview, Hardin was arranging a rendition of "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction. Hardin's arrangement was debuted at The Naturals' Nov. 3 show. Check out the final product here.