American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A passage of several notes sung to one syllable of text, as in Gregorian chant.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In music: A song, melody, or air, as contrasted with a recitative or declamatory passage.
- n. A melodic decoration, grace, fioritura, or roulade.
- n. A cadenza.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A piece of melody; a song or tune, -- as opposed to
recitativeor musical declamation.
- n. A grace or embellishment.
- From Ancient Greek μέλισμα (melisma, "song"). (Wiktionary)
- Greek, melody, from melizein, to sing, from melos, song. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“It's called melisma, and most of the contestants on this overblown karaoke-thon simply can't resist contorting their high notes into some pseudo-gospel, neck-vein popping vocal run that's supposed to make everybody in the studio audience shit their pants out of sheer wonder.”
“The practice of extending a single syllable out over many notes is known in music as "melisma".”
“Tropi" is still a matter of research; what we know is that the texts under that kind of melisma which has just been described were not called "Tropi" from the earliest times.”
“On numerous songs credited to other acts and, increasingly, more of her own, her singing is spry and sharp, using melisma for the sake of abstraction but also proving smart enough to know when to just lie down and lay into a hook that's good enough to stick on its own.”
“A few unnecessary flights of melisma aside, the Best R&B Performance class works too; it includes songs by Marsha Ambrosius, Ledisi, Kelly Price & Stokely, Corinne Bailey Rae and Charlie Wilson.”
“He has simplified the major propers between the readings, making them easier to sing while retaining crucial features of the authentic chants, such as the Jubilus (ending melisma) in the Alleluia.”
“The technique, melisma, where you take one vowel and stretch it into a few notes, helps immensely.”
“I saw a fair amount of American Idol this season — my wife was pulling for Archuleta — and one of the things that really struck me about Idol performances is how one-dimensional they are from the standpoint of craft as well as form — from the outset, you don't just know what's going to happen (melisma, octave leap, high note), you can fairly accurately predict how it's going to happen.”
“This is how McClane somehow ends up defeating terrorists—and winning American Idol —with his ultrasonic melisma.”
“In quick time, robust, sometimes ear-splitting chirping led to gospel-trained Aretha Franklin and the magnificent Patti LaBelle and to Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, who could be called the progenitors of today's melisma-infused warbling.”
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