Sunday, March 09, 2003

THE MELISMA VIRUS: We've had an email from Nigel over at the Yes/No Interlude who pulls us up over our admittedly sloppy grasp of musical terminology:
I think you mean "melisma" rather than "vibrato" when you're talking about the likes of Whitney, Mariah and Christina. "Vibrato" is "a pulsating effect, produced in singing by the rapid reiteration of emphasis on a tone" like early Scott Walker or Shirley Bassey, whereas "Melisma" is "an ornamental phrase of several notes sung to one syllable of text".
hmmm. Here, I plead that i was taking vibrato as described by James Naughtie on Today the other morning, who suggested that it would cover poking about the note to cover the inability to hit it. He's presented the Proms, you know...
but strictly speaking, Nigel is correct. Although the use of the word "ornamental" in the context of Christina strains us somewhat...

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