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All-female a capella group places third in quarterfinals, prepares for 30th anniversary

The Pitchforks were knocked out of the international championship in the wild card round, but are getting ready to celebrate 30 years of the group


The Pitchforks, an all-female a cappella group, placed third in quarterfinals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.

The ASU all-female a cappella group Pitchforks advanced to the wild card round at the Varsity Vocals International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella after placing third at the ICCA Southwest Quarter Finals on Feb. 25.

The ICCA is the only global tournament to showcase student a cappella and was featured in the movie franchise "Pitch Perfect." The team has advanced to the semifinals two times since the group originated in 1992 — two placements being from the current group, who was "aca-excited" to have this opportunity again.

In the wildcard round, groups were required to submit a virtual video of their performance. On Monday, the Pitchforks learned that they did not advance to the semifinals. However, the group is still excited by the advancement and looks forward for opportunities to come.

"It was something new last year that we weren't expecting, so we were super excited then," Pitchforks co-president and a senior studying public service and public policy Natalie Murphy said. "We had that hope coming into this year, but we were more so focused on putting together a really good set and something we were proud of."

So, what is the process like to prepare for something like this? 

"We just kind of go over our repertoire and we have girls that are really good at being focused," said Bailey Dye, music director and a senior studying communications. "We maybe do some sectionals but most of the time it's pretty collaborative."

When people want to join Pitchforks, most of them do not have an a cappella background experience, according to Haley Swenson, co-president and a senior studying psychology. The group currently only has one member majoring in music, while many members had prior choral knowledge or just share a passion for singing.

"It's been that way pretty much as long as I've been in the group," Swenson said. "But you don't have to have any a cappella history, just a willingness to learn and work hard, and we'll accept anyone."

As students who audition come from all levels of music knowledge, to get everyone on the same page the group uses an application called Noteflight. This software plays each person's line by itself, allowing those who may not know how to read music to hear what their part should sound like.

Dye is the go-to person when someone needs help to practice more with the music, along with the one who creates the arrangements for the group. She typically picks songs that sound good for an all-female arrangement, usually from her "bubblegum pop playlist."

The team attributes their success to how tight-knit their group is. Through their shared love of music and passion for a cappella, these women have created lifelong friendships and a welcoming environment, cultivating a space to learn more about music.

"I enjoy singing, so I'm very happy I get to do that and everyone has a really great work ethic which I think binds us even more and makes us such great friends," Murphy said.

Up next for the Pitchforks is celebrating their 30th anniversary, as they are the oldest and only all-female a capella group on campus. On April 13, they will host a special anniversary concert where alumnae get a chance to perform, with Pitchforks founders Tammy Watson and Rayn Hookala as the guests of honor.

Edited by Sadie Buggle, Reagan Priest and Caera Learmonth.

Reach the reporter at and follow @BoykinsLauren on Twitter. 

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