A cappella (Italian for “in the manner of the church” or “in the manner of the chapel”music is specifically group, or solo, singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It contrasts with cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato style. In the 19th century a renewed interest in Renaissance polyphony coupled with an ignorance of the fact that vocal parts were often doubled by instrumentalists led to the term coming to mean unaccompanied vocal music.
These days, many a cappella groups can be found in high schools and colleges. There are amateur Barbershop Harmony Society and professional groups that sing a cappella exclusively. Although a cappella is technically defined as singing without instrumental accompaniment, some groups use their voices to emulate instruments; others are more traditional and focus on harmonizing. A cappella styles range from gospel music to contemporary to barbershop quartets and choruses.