Melisma (Greek: μέλισμα , melisma, song, air, melody; from μέλος , melos, song, melody, plural: melismata) 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, in which each syllable of text is matched to a single note. An informal term for melisma is a vocal run.
Music of ancient cultures used melismatic techniques to induce a hypnotic trance in the listener,[ citation needed ] useful for early mystical initiation rites (such as Eleusinian Mysteries [ citation needed ]) and religious worship. This quality is still found in Arabic music where the scale consists of "quarter tones". Orthodox Christian chanting also bears a slight resemblance to this. Middle Eastern melismatic music was developed further in the Torah chanting, as well as by the Masoretes in the seventh or eighth centuries. It then appeared in some genres of Gregorian chant, where it was used in certain sections of the Mass, with the earliest written appearance around AD 900. The gradual and the alleluia, in particular, were characteristically melismatic, for example, while the tract is not, and repetitive melodic patterns were deliberately avoided in the style. The Byzantine Rite also used melismatic elements in its music, which developed roughly concurrently with the Gregorian chant.
In Western music, the term "melisma" typically refers to Gregorian chant. (The first definition of melisma by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary is "a group of notes or tones sung on one syllable in plainsong".)However, the term melisma may be used to describe music of any genre, including baroque singing, opera, and later gospel. Within the tradition of Religious Jewish music, melisma is still commonly used in the chanting of Torah, readings from the Prophets, and in the body of a service.
Today, melisma is commonly used in Middle Eastern, African, Balkan, and African American music, Fado (Portuguese), Flamenco (Spanish), and some Asian and Celtic folk music. Melisma is also commonly featured in Western popular music. Early in their careers, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder used it sparingly.Melisma is used by countless pop artists such as Michael Jackson, although this form usually involves improvising melismata (and melismatic vocalise) over a simpler melody. During the fadeout of the Beatles' 1966 track "I Want to Tell You", bassist Paul McCartney can be heard singing a high-pitched melisma in the style of classical Indian music.
The use of melisma is a common feature of artists such as Deniece Williams, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, among others.The use of melismatic vocals in pop music slowly grew in the 1980s. Deniece Williams topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1984, with "Let's Hear It for the Boy" with her melismatic vocals. Although other artists used melisma before, Houston's rendition of Dolly Parton's ballad "I Will Always Love You" pushed the technique into the mainstream in the 1990s. The trend in R&B singers is considered to have been popularized by Mariah Carey's song "Vision of Love", which was released and topped the charts in 1990, and went on to be certified gold.
As late as 2007, melismatic singers such as Leona Lewis were still scoring big hits, but around 2008–2009, this trend reverted to how it was prior to Carey and Houston's success – singers with less showy styles such as Kesha and Cheryl Cole began to outsell new releases by Carey and Christina Aguilera, ending nearly two decades of the style's dominance of pop-music vocals.
The traditional French carol tune "Gloria", to which the hymn "Angels We Have Heard on High" is usually sung (and "Angels from the Realms of Glory" in Great Britain), contains one of the most melismatic sequences in popular Christian hymn music. Twice in its refrain, the "o" of the word "Gloria" is held through 16 different notes. "Ding Dong Merrily on High", arranged by George Ratcliffe Woodward, contains an even longer melisma of 31 notes, also on the "o" of "Gloria".
George Frideric Handel's Messiah contains numerous examples of melisma, as in the following excerpt from the chorus "For Unto Us a Child Is Born" (Part I, No. 12). The soprano and alto lines engage in a 57-note melisma on the word "born".
Melisma is also used, though rarely and briefly, in the music of Jethro Tull: examples include the eponymous track of the album Songs From the Wood and the song "Skating Away (On the Thin Ice of the New Day)". One of the most striking instances in recent pop music occurs in Bruce Springsteen's "The Ties that Bind", in which the "I" in "bind" is iterated 13 times. A striking example is found in Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, in which melisma on the syllables '-co' (of 'magnifico') and 'go' (of 'let me go') forms part of the dramatic structure of the song.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart also uses melisma in his Requiem Mass in D minor (K. 626) in the Kyrie sequence, with the "e" in "eleison" being elaborately sung in various notes.
Mariah Carey is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Renowned for her five-octave vocal range, melismatic singing style, and signature use of the whistle register, Carey is referred to as the "Songbird Supreme" by Guinness World Records. She rose to fame in 1990 after signing to Columbia Records and releasing her eponymous debut album, which topped the U.S. Billboard 200 for eleven consecutive weeks. Carey became the only artist ever to have their first five singles reach number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, from "Vision of Love" to "Emotions".
In music, polyphony is a type of musical texture consisting of two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody, as opposed to a musical texture with just one voice, monophony, or a texture with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords, which is called homophony.
Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic, unaccompanied sacred song in Latin of the Roman Catholic Church. Gregorian chant developed mainly in western and central Europe during the 9th and 10th centuries, with later additions and redactions. Although popular legend credits Pope Gregory I with inventing Gregorian chant, scholars believe that it arose from a later Carolingian synthesis of Roman chant and Gallican chant.
In music, monophony is the simplest of musical textures, consisting of a melody, typically sung by a single singer or played by a single instrument player without accompanying harmony or chords. Many folk songs and traditional songs are monophonic. A melody is also considered to be monophonic if a group of singers sings the same melody together at the unison or with the same melody notes duplicated at the octave. If an entire melody is played by two or more instruments or sung by a choir with a fixed interval, such as a perfect fifth, it is also said to be monophony. The musical texture of a song or musical piece is determined by assessing whether varying components are used, such as an accompaniment part or polyphonic melody lines.
Organum is, in general, a plainchant melody with at least one added voice to enhance the harmony, developed in the Middle Ages. Depending on the mode and form of the chant, a supporting bass line may be sung on the same text, the melody may be followed in parallel motion, or a combination of both of these techniques may be employed. As no real independent second voice exists, this is a form of heterophony. In its earliest stages, organum involved two musical voices: a Gregorian chant melody, and the same melody transposed by a consonant interval, usually a perfect fifth or fourth. In these cases the composition often began and ended on a unison, the added voice keeping to the initial tone until the first part has reached a fifth or fourth, from where both voices proceeded in parallel harmony, with the reverse process at the end. Organum was originally improvised; while one singer performed a notated melody, another singer—singing "by ear"—provided the unnotated second melody. Over time, composers began to write added parts that were not just simple transpositions, thus creating true polyphony.
A neume is the basic element of Western and Eastern systems of musical notation prior to the invention of five-line staff notation.
Anglican chant, also known as English chant, is a way to sing unmetrical texts, including psalms and canticles from the Bible, by matching the natural speech-rhythm of the words to the notes of a simple harmonized melody. This distinctive type of chant is a significant element of Anglican church music.
Mariah Carey is the debut studio album by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey, released on June 12, 1990, by Columbia Records. Its music incorporates a range of contemporary genres with a mix of slow ballads and up-tempo tracks. Originally, Carey wrote four songs with Ben Margulies, which solely constituted her demo tape. After Carey was signed to Columbia, all four songs, after being altered and partially re-recorded, made the final cut for the album. Aside from Margulies, Carey worked with a range of professional writers and producers, all of whom were hired by Columbia CEO, Tommy Mottola. Mariah Carey featured production and writing from Rhett Lawrence, Ric Wake and Narada Michael Walden, all of whom were top record producers at the time. Together with Carey, they conceived the album and reconstructed her original demo tape.
The Introit is part of the opening of the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist for many Christian denominations. In its most complete version, it consists of an antiphon, psalm verse and Gloria Patri, which are spoken or sung at the beginning of the celebration. It is part of the Proper of the liturgy: that is, the part that changes over the liturgical year.
"Vision of Love" is the debut single by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey. Written by Carey and Ben Margulies, "Vision of Love" was released as the lead single from Carey's self-titled debut album on May 15, 1990. After being featured on Carey's demo tape for Columbia, the song was re-recorded and produced by Rhett Lawrence and Narada Michael Walden. "Vision of Love" features a slow-dance theme tempo and backing vocals sung by Carey herself, and introduces her usage of the whistle register. Lyrically, the song describes both a past and present relationship with a lover: Carey describes the "vision of love" she dreamed of, as well as the present love she feels for him.
"Dreamlover" is a song by American singer Mariah Carey, released on July 27, 1993, as the lead single from her third studio album, Music Box (1993). The lyrics were written by Carey, with music composed by Carey and Dave Hall, and was produced by Carey, Walter Afanasieff and Hall. The song incorporates a sample of the hook from "Blind Alley" by the Emotions, previously used in "Ain't No Half-Steppin'" (1988) by Big Daddy Kane, into its melody and instrumentation. "Dreamlover" marked a more pronounced attempt on Carey's part to incorporate pop into her music, as was seen in her decision to work with Hall, who had previously produced What's the 411? `(1992) by Mary J Blige. This was partly in light of the mixed reception to her previous studio effort Emotions (1991), which featured gospel and 1960s soul influences. Lyrically, the song pictures a protagonist calling for a perfect lover, her "dreamlover," to whisk her away into the night and not disillusion her like others in the past.
"Always Be My Baby" is a song by American singer Mariah Carey from her fifth studio album Daydream (1995). It was released by Columbia Records on March 9, 1996, as the third US single and fourth overall. The song was written by Carey, Jermaine Dupri and Manuel Seal. A midtempo song, its lyrics describe the feeling of attachment and unity the singer feels towards her estranged lover, even though they are no longer together, she says he will always be a part of her and will "always be her baby" even after they move on.
Contemporary R&B is a music genre that combines elements of rhythm and blues, pop, soul, funk, hip hop and electronic music.
Ambrosian chant is the liturgical plainchant repertory of the Ambrosian rite of the Roman Catholic Church, related to but distinct from Gregorian chant. It is primarily associated with the Archdiocese of Milan, and named after St. Ambrose much as Gregorian chant is named after Gregory the Great. It is the only surviving plainchant tradition besides the Gregorian to maintain the official sanction of the Roman Catholic Church.
Mozarabic chant is the liturgical plainchant repertory of the Visigothic/Mozarabic rite of the Catholic Church, related to the Gregorian chant. It is primarily associated with Hispania under Visigothic rule and with the Catholic Visigoths/Mozarabs living under Islamic rule, and was soon replaced by the chant of the Roman rite following the Christian Reconquest. Although its original medieval form is largely lost, a few chants have survived with readable musical notation, and the chanted rite was later revived in altered form and continues to be used in a few isolated locations in Spain, primarily in Toledo.
Beneventan chant is a liturgical plainchant repertory of the Roman Catholic Church, used primarily in the orbit of the southern Italian ecclesiastical centers of Benevento and Monte Cassino distinct from Gregorian chant and related to Ambrosian chant. It was officially supplanted by the Gregorian chant of the Roman rite in the 11th century, although a few Beneventan chants of local interest remained in use.
Oversinging is a term, sometimes derogatory, aimed at vocal styles that dominate the music they are performed in, including melisma and belting, and over-usage of embellishments on one sound.
Vocal harmony is a style of vocal music in which a consonant note or notes are simultaneously sung as a main melody in a predominantly homophonic texture. Vocal harmonies are used in many subgenres of European art music, including Classical choral music and opera and in the popular styles from many Western cultures ranging from folk songs and musical theater pieces to rock ballads. In the simplest style of vocal harmony, the main vocal melody is supported by a single backup vocal line, either at a pitch which is above or below the main vocal line, often in thirds or sixths which fit in with the chord progression used in the song. In more complex vocal harmony arrangements, different backup singers may sing two or even three other notes at the same time as each of the main melody notes, mostly with consonant, pleasing-sounding thirds, sixths, and fifths.
"Oh Santa!" is a song by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey from her second Christmas album/thirteenth studio album, Merry Christmas II You (2010). Carey wrote and produced the song in collaboration with Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox. It was released as the lead single from the album. It is an up-tempo R&B song about Carey making a plea for Santa Claus to bring back her partner in time for the Christmas holidays. Instrumentation of sleigh bells, jingle bells and hand claps. It received a positive response from music critics, with many praising its composition and style.
"Thirsty" is a promotional single by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey from her fourteenth studio album, Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse. It was co-written by Carey in collaboration with Hit-Boy, Denesia Andrews and MaryAnn Tatum. Carey and Hit-Boy also produced it, with co-production from Rey Reel. The alternate version of "Thirsty", featuring one rap verse from American rapper Rich Homie Quan, received its radio premiere on Power 105.1 on May 13, 2014, a day before the album version featuring just Carey was made available to stream. It has been described as a "club-friendly" R&B song influenced by hip hop, which makes use of a minimal synth beat.