What Is The Difference Between Syllabic And Mel’s Maddox Saying In Chant

Difference between syllabic, melismatic and neumatic singing

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Syllabic singing: definition and examples

Singing in syllabics, which implies one note per syllable, is a melodic style that may be heard in a wide range of musical genres, including anything from medieval Gregorian plain chant to Indian Vedic recitation to current pop-rock music. When the text is placed to music, the fact that each note has its own syllable makes it easier to discern the words. Take a look at an example of syllabic singing to illustrate my point. My selection for you is a Gregorian chant called Condit0r alme siderum, and the music is drawn from that piece.

On the score, you can see that each word of this Latin hymn has a matching note, which is sufficient to indicate that the singing style is syllabic: If you listen to this rendition of Conditor alme siderum, you will gain a better understanding of how a syllabic chant sounds.

The following Mantra Pushpam, a sacred scripture composed in Sanskrit and chanted in a syllabic way by all of the priests together after completing any Pooja (worship), is available for listening pleasure:

Melismatic singing: definition and examples

It is a melodic style prevalent in a variety of musical genres, from Medieval Plain Chant and Indian Vedic recitation to modern pop-rock music. Syllabic singing refers to singing with one note per syllable and is defined as one note per syllable. When the text is placed to music, the fact that each note has its own syllable makes it easier to discern the words. We may see an illustration of this by listening to the song below. Gregorian chant Condit0r alme siderum is the source of the song I’ve picked for you today.

Pay attention to how the vocalist utilizes only one note per syllable: As an example, the recitation of theYajur-Veda, which is performed in a one-to-one relationship between syllables and notes, is characterized by syllabic chanting in Indian (svara).

Neumatic singing: definition and examples

We speak to melismatic singing in general and neumatic singing specifically when we talk about neumatic singing. Neumatic singing is a sort of melismatic singing that originated in the Middle Ages and is based on groups of notes ranging from 2 to 4 notes, which are referred to as neuma. As you can see, Gregorian chants are replete with neumatic sections, which were written specifically for the goal of enhancing the strict melodic structure that results from syllabic singing. According to the score below, Ave Maris Stella opens with a blend of neumatic and syllabic singing, which is easy to notice: Ave Maris Stella Several of the words, including “ave,” “stella,” “mater,” and “alma,” are punctuated with neumatic passages.

The term “stella” is also embellished with a2-note neuma. Make an effort to identify which portions in the following audio file were performed using the neumatic phrasing:

Final remarks

So, to summarize the differences between syllabic, melismatic, and neumatic singing, consider the following: when singing is syllabic, you will find one note for each syllable; when singing is melismatic, there can be several notes for each syllable; and when singing is neumatic, there will be no notes at all. When it comes to Christian monastic singing, neumatic singing refers to a unique method in which those groupings of 2 to 4 notes that were sung on the same syllable of a liturgical text were referred to.

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Throughout the history of western civilisation, syllabic singing has been adopted by religious traditions and artistic groups that wish for their adherents to remain focused on the meaning of the lyrics rather than becoming distracted by the intriguing embellishment of melismatic parts.

These religious traditions are known as melismatic traditions.

Hallelujatic jubilations are a type of jubilation associated with Christian sacred music.

Melisma – Wikipedia

In Greek, melisma means “singing in the air,” and “melismata” means “singing with the notes.” Melisma is the singing of a single syllable of text while moving between multiple distinct notes in succession. (Greek: “melismata” means “singing in the air.”) Melismatic music, as opposed to syllabic music, in which each syllable of text is matched to a single note, is the term used to describe music sung in this way. Avocal run is a word used to refer to melisma informally.


Melismatic techniques were utilized in ancient societies to create a hypnotic trance in the listener, which was important for early mystical initiation ceremonies (such as the Eleusinian Mysteries) and religious devotion, among other things. It is still possible to hear this characteristic in Greek music, Irish folk music, and Arabic music, where the scale is made up of ” quarter tones.” Additionally, Orthodox Christian chanting is similar to this in appearance and sound. Torahchanting and the Masoretes, who lived in the seventh or eighth century, both contributed to the continued development of Middle Eastern melismatic music.

  • Examples are thegradual and thealleluia, both of which were particularly melismatic, although thetract was not, and the avoidance of repeating melodic patterns in the style.
  • In Western music, the term “melissa” is often used to refer to Gregorian chants or chant-like passages.
  • Melisma, on the other hand, can be used to any type of music, including baroque singing, opera, and later gospel music, among others.
  • Melisma is widely employed in a variety of genres today, including Middle Eastern, African, Balkan, and African American music, Fado (Portuguese), Flamenco (Spanish), and certain Asian and Celtic music.
  • Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder were all known for using it sparingly early in their careers.

Paul McCartney, the Beatles’ bassist, may be heard singing a high-pitched melisma in the manner of traditional Indian music during the fadeout of their 1966 hit ” I Want to Tell You “.

Prevalence in popular music (mid 1980s to late 2000s)

Artists like as Deniece Williams, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, and Christina Aguilera, among others, are known for their usage of melisma. During the 1980s, the usage of melismatic vocals in mainstream music gradually increased. Deniece Williams’ melismatic vocals on ” Let’s Hear It for the Boy ” propelled her to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 list in May of that year. Although several singers had employed melisma previously, Houston’s performance of Dolly Parton’s ballad ” I Will Always Love You ” in the 1990s was the song that catapulted the technique into the public.

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charts before going on to become a gold record, is widely regarded as having started the trend.

Recent backlash (late 2000s – early 2010s)

Melismatic singers such asLeona Lewiswere still scoring big hits as late as 2007, but by 2008–2009, the trend had reverted to what it had been prior to the success of Carey and Houston – singers with less showy styles such asKesha and Cheryl Colewere beginning to outsell new releases by Carey and Christina Aguilera, effectively bringing an end to nearly two decades of the style’s dominance of pop-music vocals.


It is to the classic French carol melody “Gloria” that the hymn ” Angels We Have Heard on High ” (and ” Angels from the Realms of Glory ” in Great Britain) is frequently sung, that one of the greatest melismatic sequences in popular Christian hymn music may be found: “Angels from the Realms of Glory.” The “o” of the word “Gloria” is maintained in place twice throughout the song’s refrain, each time through 16 distinct notes.

An even lengthier melisma of 31 notes is seen in the arrangement of George Ratcliffe Woodward’s ” Ding Dong Merrily on High “.


InQueen’sBohemian Rhapsody, melisma on the syllables ‘-co’ (in the phrase “magnifico”) and “go” (in the phrase “let me go”) is used as part of the dramatic structure of the song, which is a noteworthy example.

During the performance of his 2010 song ” Oh Bo “, American comedianBo Burnham employs melisma to give his lyrics a layered meaning; for example, on the line “I got the runs,” he refers to having diarrhea (“the runs”) while employing an Auto-Tuned vocal run on the word “runs.” Another example of melisma in popular music can be found in the 2013 single ” Do or Die ” by the American rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars.

“And the narrative continues on,” Jared Leto says in the chorus, and he repeats this phrase throughout the song, holding the “on” word for many notes at the end of each line.

See also

  1. John Shepherd is a fictional character in a novel about a boy who grows up to be a shepherd (2003). Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World: Performance and Production, p. 565, ISBN 978-0-8264-6322-7
  2. Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World: Performance and Production, p. 565, ISBN 978-0-8264-6322-7
  3. Mike Katzif is the author of this work (January 11, 2007). American Idol exploits (and abuses) melisma in a variety of ways, according to National Public Radio. “Melisma,” which was retrieved on October 7, 2019. Merriam-Webster. Idelsohn, Abraham Zevi (October 7, 2019)
  4. Retrieved on October 7, 2019
  5. (1929). ISBN 978-0-486-27147-7
  6. AbBrowne, David, Jewish Music: Its Historical Development.ISBN 978-0-486-27147-7 (December 26, 2010). “Trilling Songbirds Clip Their Wings,” says the author. The New York Times is a newspaper published in New York City. abEveritt, Lauren (October 7, 2019)
  7. Retrieved from (February 15, 2012). “Whitney Houston and the art of melisma” is the title of this article. According to the BBC News. retrieved on the 7th of October, 2019
  8. Stephen Thomas Erlewine is the author of this work. allmusic.com: “‘Whoa, Nelly!’ review”. “‘Vision of Love’ sparks off melisma fad,” according to a report published on October 7, 2019. The Village Voice published an article on February 4, 2003, titled Sasha Frere-Jones, Sasha Frere-Jones, Sasha Frere-Jones (April 3, 2006). “At the top of the charts: Mariah Carey’s record-breaking career.” The New Yorker is a publication dedicated to journalism. “The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time: 79. Mariah Carey” was published on October 7, 2019. Rolling Stone published an article on November 27, 2008, titled retrieved on the 7th of October, 2019
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External links

  • The term “melisma” is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, and it is also defined in the Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary.

Syllabic Music: Definition, Analysis & Structure – Video & Lesson Transcript

Syllabic music is music in which the lyrics are written in a syllabic text format. A word is broken down into syllables and each syllable is allocated to a separate note in a syllabic text arrangement. Take, for example, the song “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” which is about a little star. The word tari is a one-syllable word that falls under the same musical note as the word. This implies that the wordstaris are sung on the one note that has been designated. The song is only one phrase and one note.

Looking at the lyrics, you’ll see that the two syllables of this word are separated by a dash, and that each syllable is represented by a different pitch.

Melismatic Music

Text setting in syllabics is the polar opposite of text setting in melismatics. When a single syllable of text is extended across multiple distinct pitches, this is known as amelisma. An example of Ding Dong Merrily on High; take note of the melisma on the first syllable of the word ‘Gloria,’ which means ‘glory,’ in Latin. Take note of the fact that the syllable is extended across 16 distinct pitches. If you pay attention to the songs of singers who are well-known for their remarkable vocal abilities (such as Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, or the late Whitney Houston), you’ll notice that they frequently employ melismas to embellish their melodies – particularly at the endings of words.

The frequency with which each sort of text arrangement appears in a composition determines whether or not it is regarded syllabic or melismatic.

Improvising On Syllabic Settings

The addition of additional notes can help change a basic syllabic text setting into a melismatic setting, which is something that sometimes happens to performers. The song “The Star-Spangled Banner” is an excellent illustration of this. If you read the poem in its original form, you will see that Francis Scott Key chose a text that was nearly entirely syllabic when he arranged it to the now-famous melody by John Stafford Smith. Take note of how everything is syllabic, with the exception of a little melisma on the first word.

One possible melismatic embellishement of the original syllabic tune. The original notes are indicated in red, all other notes are embellished melismas.

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