Pitch perfect is a movie based on competitive acapella singing where the only sounds should come from the human voice. It is a great movie and a great soundtrack.

But some critics (including Mark Kermode) have claimed that the movie cheats and uses some instruments, especially near the end. Is this true? Or does the movie stick to its principles and use only the voice?

2 Answers 2


According to this article from Post Magazine, there were no instruments, but there were guitar, bass, and drum vocalizations, plus a beatbox. With the vocalization technique, apparently you are singing through an instrument, so it is still your voice rather than the instrument that is causing the sound (think Peter Frampton and his talk box).

Kevin O’Connell, re-recording mixer at Universal Sound Studios, handled the music and dialog mix on the film. For each of the 80 songs delivered for the final mix, there were up to 120 tracks of a cappella singing and vocalizations. O’Connell said, “I would have the main characters on the first 10 to 12 tracks, and the secondary characters on the next 10 to 12 tracks. Then I’d have scads of background vocals, beatbox, guitar vocalizations, bass vocalizations, and drum vocalizations.”

O’Connell took the principle tracks and panned them around the stage to match where the characters were dancing while they were singing. Next he filled in the background characters vocals. Then he filled the track in with the different instrument vocalizations of guitars, drums, bass, beatbox, and any other vocalized samples that came with the song. He said, “When you see it, you’ll find it hard to believe that there were actually no instruments during any of those songs.”

The article tells all about the recording and mixing processes for the film - very interesting!

  • Wait, wait, how can "it is still your voice rather than the instrument" if there are guitars and basses? So are there vocal instrumentals (thus not pure voice) or are there not?
    – Pacerier
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 17:49

While technically the recording is true and all based on vocalization, in a competition setting, it wasn't accurate. There weren't enough girls on stage to do the complexity of the song. There were so many layers of sound that's possible in a studio but not in a stage setting with the limited number of girls on stage. You can't be simultaneously singing and doing the background beats. It would've been possible if all the women at the end were always present and vocalizing but they didn't come onto the stage until the end.

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