Showing posts with label Sam Cooke. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sam Cooke. Show all posts

Friday, April 17, 2009

Melismatic Excess

I've been at the San Francisco Giants' ballpark before a game, and had to stand up and listen to some lounge singer lay his stylings on the National Anthem with a trowel, and by the end of minute 2, I was looking askance at the heavens.

The trick with melisma in an R&B song is to use it with restraint. Using melisma for a particular phrase in an otherwise understated performance calls attention to that phrase, and communicates angst or joy at a deeper level than the more matter-of-fact actual lyric. A perfect example is Sam Cooke's "Lost and Looking," which is just his voice and a stand-up bass. It's an incredible performance: