Friday, March 18, 2011
There's a Word for That: Melisma
(Deep breath, pause for dramatic effect)
All right, here it goes: My EC and I follow American Idol. There, I said it. I'm sure you are disappointed in me because by now you have learned to expect more.
In my defense, I would like to point out that due to great wisdom, economy and a DVR, we are able to watch an entire 2-hour episode in 11 minutes. An average results show takes 7 minutes, unless the Black Eyed Peas are playing, then we can push it down to 4.
One may ask, "Why do you abuse the fast forward button?" The answer is our word for the day: Melisma.
Defined: Melisma is the singing of a single syllable of text while moving between several different notes in succession. Music sung in this style is referred to as melismatic, as opposed to syllabic where each syllable of text is matched to a single note.
Melisma had it start in gospel music, but it seems that every singer in AI tries to outdo each other with all the crazy runs. Sometimes I wonder if they can't find the note, so they just sing all of them. The only genre that seems to have even remotely escaped is rock.
Melisma drives me crazy. I am old enough to personally thank Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey for helping destroy music. Christina Aguilera took it to a whole new level. Once in a while it works. It is like frosting on cupcakes - some is OK., too much and too fancy ruins it. Most of the time it sounds like the singer is just showing off, which reenforces the importance of the fact:
- Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should-
I am afraid that it has become so commonplace that people don't even notice it anymore. Or -gasp- perhaps they have even grown to like it. Maybe I'm showing my age, but I think it gets ridiculous.
So, next time Stefano, Pia, or Thia Megia (Dr. Seuss anyone?) or anyone else starts of on their crazy show-off runs, remember the word melisma.
If you are listening to Jacob Lusk, know that I am not. Until he can learn to pick a note that actually is in the melody, I'm sitting on the FF button. I would much rather hear Steven Tyler scream.