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Melisma mania

GUEST,Stuart Reed 27 May 12 - 07:46 AM
GUEST,leeneia 27 May 12 - 09:30 AM
GUEST 27 May 12 - 11:50 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 27 May 12 - 01:21 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 May 12 - 01:34 PM
michaelr 27 May 12 - 06:15 PM
Marje 28 May 12 - 01:15 PM
GUEST,Tootler 28 May 12 - 01:26 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 May 12 - 01:37 PM
Geoff the Duck 28 May 12 - 05:12 PM
michaelr 28 May 12 - 06:05 PM
GUEST,leeneia 29 May 12 - 08:57 AM
Tunesmith 29 May 12 - 03:00 PM
Marje 30 May 12 - 06:32 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 May 12 - 12:23 PM
GUEST,crazy little woman 30 May 12 - 03:00 PM
Will Fly 30 May 12 - 03:19 PM
Gurney 30 May 12 - 05:49 PM
gnu 30 May 12 - 08:11 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 30 May 12 - 09:23 PM
Tunesmith 31 May 12 - 04:53 AM
Marje 31 May 12 - 07:40 AM
Tootler 31 May 12 - 08:21 AM
GUEST,crazy little woman 31 May 12 - 10:23 AM
Mooh 31 May 12 - 01:32 PM
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Subject: Melisma mania
From: GUEST,Stuart Reed
Date: 27 May 12 - 07:46 AM

Melisma - I must confess that the first time I came across this word was in the obituaries for Whitney Houston but I'm now grateful to have a pretentious handle for dismissing the infuriating vocal style currently employed by many young pop singers. (And don't get me started on their appropriation of the term R&B...)

On the other hand, I am entranced by the Irish Sean Nós style, so I suppose I'm a musical snob.

Just wanted to get it off my chest.


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 May 12 - 09:30 AM

Are you compelled to listen to pop music, say on the job? If so, you have my sympathy.

Melisma has been around a long time, (see examples) but it's a special effect and should not be overdone. Examples:

Handel: And He shall pur-i-fa-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a y the sons of Levi

Tab Hunter: They say for every boy and girl there's
             just one love in this whole world and
             I-I-I know I-I-I've found mi- ine.

Anon:       Dinah, won't you blow your ho-o-orn?

And the idea of melisma being used a lot by singers who need Autotune to help them through a melody gives me chills down the spine.


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: GUEST
Date: 27 May 12 - 11:50 AM

Mary Hopkin's blog has some funny recent posts on the topic of Melisma and other vocal tics:

http://www.maryhopkin.com/blog.html


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 27 May 12 - 01:21 PM

I predict that a few years down the road, critics/and the public will look make on this period of "melisma madness", and write it off as some weird aberration.


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 May 12 - 01:34 PM

Thanks for Mary Hopkins on milismation. It has its place, although misplaced by some current "singers."


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: michaelr
Date: 27 May 12 - 06:15 PM

That's hilarious! (the Mary Hopkin blog)


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: Marje
Date: 28 May 12 - 01:15 PM

I'm glad you've explained the word. I had come across it but not taken the trouble to find out what it was. I didn't even know there was a word for this, but now I can explain what it is that irritates me about modern wannabe pop singers.

I know there are legitimate uses for melisma - in musical works where each note is notated and sung deliberately, or in gospel where it has its place in intensifying the emotion of the song in worship; but the way it's used now, to mangle and distort up both the words and the tunes of what were once perfectly good songs with endless, self-indulgent ad-libbing, that's something different.

I'm very pleased that I now have a word for it.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: GUEST,Tootler
Date: 28 May 12 - 01:26 PM

Perhaps we should call what pop singers do malisma to distinguish it from the real thing.


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 May 12 - 01:37 PM

Or Miasma?


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 28 May 12 - 05:12 PM

And I thought it was just that Maria Carey couldn't hold a note in a bucket.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: michaelr
Date: 28 May 12 - 06:05 PM

Melingeons!


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 29 May 12 - 08:57 AM

I haven't heard any current pop singers doing melisma, so I don't know how it sounds. I only hear pop music in retail places, and the tunes tend to be oldies.

Any chance it's been borrowed from the musical style of the Middle East? Wars are terrible, but as a side effect they do cause exchanges of culture.


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: Tunesmith
Date: 29 May 12 - 03:00 PM

Well, I would say that it comes from black gospel singing, but has become more and more elaborate/exaggerated as time has passed on!


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: Marje
Date: 30 May 12 - 06:32 AM

Yes, I think the affectation that afflicts modern pop singers is rooted in Gospel and R&B rather than any Middle Eastern musical styles.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 May 12 - 12:23 PM

Long history in European religious works and operatic material. Listen to some of Vivaldi's and Handel's operas as well as Josquin and others of the late Renaissance and Baroque periods. It is part of the western traditions and probably eastern as well, so its roots are much older than gospel, etc.

The problem with its use by pop singers is that most have a poor idea of when and how to use it.


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: GUEST,crazy little woman
Date: 30 May 12 - 03:00 PM

I'd like to get in touch with contemporary culture. Can anybody name a singer and song that I can listen to on YouTube so as to hear this kind of singing?


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: Will Fly
Date: 30 May 12 - 03:19 PM

Wasn't Melisma Mania a singer in the recent Eurovision?


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: Gurney
Date: 30 May 12 - 05:49 PM

Is there a name for the practice that some singers employ when they elongate a note but try to extend a consonant instead of a vowel?
Some popular Irish folksingers do it often.

Is this the reverse of Melisma?


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: gnu
Date: 30 May 12 - 08:11 PM

Q... "The problem with its use by pop singers is that most have a poor idea of when and how to use it."

Indeed. I enjoy the TV "talent" competition shows to a certain extent but the "wailing" that goes on in many performances is extremely upsetting. As it is by "stars" on various media.


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 30 May 12 - 09:23 PM

Alicia Keys's diabolical performance at Whitney Houston's Funeral
might be a contender for unrestrained contemporary r'n'b stylising at it's ear torturing worst !!!???

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9weHLXocVY


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: Tunesmith
Date: 31 May 12 - 04:53 AM

I've come with an analogy.
Remember when flared trousers were popular?
Well, as time passed by they got wider and wider until someone said, "Hey, they look stupid!". And, everyone - well nearly everyone -agreed.
Hopefully, the same thing will happen with "melisma mania"


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: Marje
Date: 31 May 12 - 07:40 AM

i do understand that melisma has existed in many song styles and cultures for centuries. But I still think that the particular style of ad-libbing that is so prevalent in modern pop singing (a very self-indulgent, wavery, wailing) is measurably different from the sort used in, say, classical opera or oratorio.

In classical music, there are clearly defined sections for the soloist, sometimes marked "ad-lib", for a few bars or one extended bar at a climactic point in the music; there are also choral or solo sections where the music is notated in a way that places a single syllable across many notes ("Unto us a child is bo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-orn", etc). But this latter form is precisely notated, and sung strictly in rhythm and pitch as written, so it can be done by a whole choir or section of a choir, as one. They are not improvised riffs or flourishes, they're just sections of fast-paced music in which a few syllables are stretched across lots of short notes.

The currently fashionable melisma is much closer to the style used in gospel music, adn I think there's a direct link there, as gospel has had a big influence on American pop music.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: Tootler
Date: 31 May 12 - 08:21 AM

Well put, Marj.

It does seem that a similar thing happened in the eighteenth century. The coloratura style of singing became so over the top that there was a reaction against it and later eighteenth century composers. Gluck was one of those who rebelled against the earlier style. This from Wikipedia
Orfeo, which has never left the standard repertory, showed the beginnings of Gluck's reforms. His idea was to make the drama of the work more important than the star singers who performed it...
Something familiar about that. It pretty much sums up for me the difference between folk song and pop song in its current form.

I listened to Alicia Keys performance that punkfolkrocker linked above. It was pretty dire; not only ott with melisma but also poor phrasing. Even my computer got fed up as the OS crashed near the end [grin]


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: GUEST,crazy little woman
Date: 31 May 12 - 10:23 AM

thanks for the link, punkfolkrocker

I believe I've heard worse.


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Subject: RE: Melisma mania
From: Mooh
Date: 31 May 12 - 01:32 PM

It drives me crazy, not because I don't understand the music, but because it is most often overdone, and poorly done. If one can't carry a tune, one can't carry it any better by adding twice as many notes warbling all over the place.

Peace, Mooh.


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