Meet SANTALAND DIARIES elfcappella coach, Tim Harland!

December 11th, 2014

Elfcappella is definitely one of the favorite new additions to the The Santaland Diaries! And the man behind the harmonies, melodies, and arrangements is Tim Harland, who you may know as our group sales manager, but for The Santaland Diaries and Elfcappella he was the a cappella coach!

Tim Harland, a cappella coach.

Tim Harland, a cappella coach.

Check out our interview with him below about his experience doing a cappella, what the process was like creating the arrangements for The Santaland Diaries, and how they knew it would be funny! 

Q. How did you get started in a cappella?

A. I was fortunate enough to have gone to a public school that had a strong arts program. I had been a part of the choir for several years when I heard about the high school all-male a cappella group. I got in and have been hooked ever since, having sung with Dooley Noted at Emory University and now with Cloud 9 here in Atlanta!

Q. What was the process like when not only arranging the songs, but also the lyrics for Elfcappella in The Santaland Diaries?

A. Without getting too technical, it’s mostly just finding ways to build on the melodic line of the song; regular songs can rely on the different sounds of instruments to give them depth and texture, but since a cappella only uses the voice, you have to get a little creative with new harmonies and rhythms. As for the lyrics, I’ve had practice lampooning some of my dad’s favorite poems and songs to be about him getting older and balder for Father’s Day each year, so sitting down with these for just a verse and chorus was a breeze!

Q. The song lyrics mesh so well with The Santaland Diaries spirit of hilarity. Was the writing of the finalized lyrics a collaborative effort to ensure there would indeed be laughter?

A. Absolutely. The apprentices and I sat down when the idea was first floated by us, and we bounced ideas off of each other until I had enough to pull from. I would bring in some work, they would sing through it, and we would tweak things until we had a finished product.

Q. There is a small group of Horizon Theatre apprentices that sing the arrangements. Is it more difficult to do a cappella with a smaller group or is it easier with less singers?

A. This may not be universally true, but working with fewer singers was definitely a challenge for me. I’ve been spoiled with groups of 8-16 voices, so I’m more used to being able to write sprawling arrangements. Working with just 3 forced me to strip away to the bare bones, but I also had to make sure the pieces moved and were interesting to both listen to and sing.

Q. What is your favorite lyric that you created for Elfcappella?

A. I think just the idea to make “Let It Go” a song about going to the bathroom is my favorite bit, only because the chorus really didn’t have to be changed if I didn’t want it to — it fit so well!

To see Tim in a cappella action, check out his group Cloud 9 here! And to see Elfcappella, come see The Santaland Diaries!