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Old 23-04-2020, 12:17
CaerphillyCheese CaerphillyCheese is offline
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JDB's melisma

This may have been discussed before but I've yet to hear/read anyone mention it.

For about 25 years I've always wondered why James Dean Bradfield uses the same vocal motif/vocal bend (today I discovered it's called a melisma!) on everything he sings. I love it and in fact I loved Winds of Change by Scorpions as a kid purely because the vocal sounded a bit "manicsy" - the vocal features the same melisma on the verses.

Does anyone know if there is any significance to this? Is it just the fact he prefers it to the sound of a sustained note?

I know he tends to talk more about his guitar playing that his vocals but it must have come up at some point over the last 30 years? I've heard him say that he thinks his voice sounds better when its loud but that's about it.
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Old 23-04-2020, 14:33
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I've always associated melisma with singers like Mariah Carey who would transform a single note into about a thousand different notes. I've never heard JDB do that!

I think I know what you mean by the Scorpions song though (I like it too - I remember when it first came out!) and the way in for example the first verse, the word 'park' drops a semitone then comes back up again. I've definitely heard James do things like that, though I've never particularly thought about it as a James thing, I think a lot of singers do it (though now I want to investigate further to see if it is particular to him!)

Last edited by blackflower; 23-04-2020 at 14:34. Reason: Grammar!
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Old 23-04-2020, 14:49
CaerphillyCheese CaerphillyCheese is offline
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Yeah I think it's normally more associated with vocal gymnastics but like you say, it's just when he does drops down and a semi-tone then back up again at the end of a line.

I guess I recognise it more as a JDB trademark than other artists because it's more pronounced/more emphasis perhaps.
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Old 23-04-2020, 15:24
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could either of ye recommend a few songs that highlight it clearly? i'm finding it difficult to wrap my head around but i think i know what you mean!
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Old 23-04-2020, 15:47
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From wikipedia:

Quote:
Melisma

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.
So, if I'm understanding it right, the first example I thought of is:

From _ des _ pair to ... WHERRRRRR----ERRRRREEEE-EERRRRRRR-ERRR-ERREERRRRRE.
https://youtu.be/qFewXLjXTSU?t=138 (2m:18s)
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Old 23-04-2020, 16:27
CaerphillyCheese CaerphillyCheese is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Porco View Post
From wikipedia:



So, if I'm understanding it right, the first example I thought of is:

From _ des _ pair to ... WHERRRRRR----ERRRRREEEE-EERRRRRRR-ERRR-ERREERRRRRE.
https://youtu.be/qFewXLjXTSU?t=138 (2m:18s)
I was thinking more of the 2 note thing he does. First most obvious example that pops in my head is end of the verse lines on Everything Must Go.

Shed some skin for the fear withIIIiiiIIIN
Is starting to hurt me with everythIIIiiiiIIING
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Old 23-04-2020, 16:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaerphillyCheese View Post
I was thinking more of the 2 note thing he does. First most obvious example that pops in my head is end of the verse lines on Everything Must Go.

Shed some skin for the fear withIIIiiiIIIN
Is starting to hurt me with everythIIIiiiiIIING
Oh, I see (or hear) what you mean
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Old 23-04-2020, 18:50
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Or not quite? I'm hearing what you mean in the examples. Would the "Blue" in "International Blue" count?
Of course making this thread will probably make him self conscious so sing something different instead now.
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Old 23-04-2020, 20:48
CaerphillyCheese CaerphillyCheese is offline
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An earlier example is Suicide is Painless on the 3rd chorus.

I can take or leave it if I plEEeeEASE.

Design for Life for life has a few like....

What price nOooOW...
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Old 24-04-2020, 00:26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaerphillyCheese View Post
This may have been discussed before but I've yet to hear/read anyone mention it.

For about 25 years I've always wondered why James Dean Bradfield uses the same vocal motif/vocal bend (today I discovered it's called a melisma!) on everything he sings. I love it and in fact I loved Winds of Change by Scorpions as a kid purely because the vocal sounded a bit "manicsy" - the vocal features the same melisma on the verses.

Does anyone know if there is any significance to this? Is it just the fact he prefers it to the sound of a sustained note?

I know he tends to talk more about his guitar playing that his vocals but it must have come up at some point over the last 30 years? I've heard him say that he thinks his voice sounds better when its loud but that's about it.
If I've managed to copy the link below correctly.... Then James talks about how he carries a tune here....learnt it all off Frank Sinatra


https://www.repeatfanzine.co.uk/inte...0bradfield.htm

Quote:
Originally Posted by ron the little seal View Post
could either of ye recommend a few songs that highlight it clearly? i'm finding it difficult to wrap my head around but i think i know what you mean!
One of the best examples is Whitney singing And Iiiiiiiiiiiiiii will always love youuuuu
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Old 24-04-2020, 07:58
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So I'm digging deep into my memory of decades-old music studies here, but I think I would call what James does not a melisma but a (very short) trill. Playing the piano, a trill is where you alternate the main note with the note one semitone higher or lower very rapidly several times. A quick google brings up this definition: 'a quavering or vibratory sound, especially a rapid alternation of sung or played notes.' That seems to describe perfectly what James tends to do with the end of a sung line, to emphasise the final word, except he only alternates the note once, rather than many times in succession.

Any other music theory nerds want to weigh in?

EDIT: Ah ha! Wikipedia to the rescue - it's actually a mordent: "In music, a mordent is an ornament indicating that the note is to be played with a single rapid alternation with the note above or below."

Last edited by blackflower; 24-04-2020 at 08:05. Reason: Music Scholarship!
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Old 24-04-2020, 08:53
CaerphillyCheese CaerphillyCheese is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackflower View Post
So I'm digging deep into my memory of decades-old music studies here, but I think I would call what James does not a melisma but a (very short) trill. Playing the piano, a trill is where you alternate the main note with the note one semitone higher or lower very rapidly several times. A quick google brings up this definition: 'a quavering or vibratory sound, especially a rapid alternation of sung or played notes.' That seems to describe perfectly what James tends to do with the end of a sung line, to emphasise the final word, except he only alternates the note once, rather than many times in succession.

Any other music theory nerds want to weigh in?

EDIT: Ah ha! Wikipedia to the rescue - it's actually a mordent: "In music, a mordent is an ornament indicating that the note is to be played with a single rapid alternation with the note above or below."
Yes! I think you've pummelled that nail right, square on the head! I actually conferred with a music-teacher friend yesterday before posting and asked him what it was called. Clearly he either needs to listen to more Manic Street Preachers or brush up on his theory!

I don't know if you can change threat titles but I hereby rename this thread "JDB's mordent"!

I'm sure he doesn't do it quite as much as I think he does but I still think he does it a lot. Just to reiterate, it is something I actually really like.

In fact I think I might construct a drinking game around it.
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Old 24-04-2020, 09:02
CaerphillyCheese CaerphillyCheese is offline
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[QUOTE=raven;2682435]If I've managed to copy the link below correctly.... Then James talks about how he carries a tune here....learnt it all off Frank Sinatra


https://www.repeatfanzine.co.uk/inte...0bradfield.htm


That is a great interview and one I have never read!

I knew James loved Frank Sinatra's music but never knew that he had an influence on him vocally.

He clearly thinks of himself as a guitarist first and foremost and a vocalist very much secondary but I've always been curious about his vocal influences as he is one of the few distinctly original-sounding vocalists around. Which is probably why I latched on to Scorpions' Winds of Change.

Seriously though....go listen to the second line where he sings "...down to Gorky Park" at about 25 seconds. If that isn't a JDB-style breathy mordent I don't know what is!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4RjJKxsamQ
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Old 24-04-2020, 11:47
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So one note a trill, run of notes a melisma.
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Old 24-04-2020, 12:13
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I'm just running through the first few songs on my playlist of fave Manics tunes to see how often the mordent occurs.

I Am Just A Patsy: in 'love' and 'above' in the chorus
Prologue to History: not as often but pops up in the second chorus on 'mission'
I Live To Fall Asleep: he actually kinds of extends it here in 'kill' (first verse) and 'asleep' (end of chorus)
The Girl Who Wanted to Be God: 'high' in second verse, 'am' in last line of last chorus
Die in the Summertime: on last 'die' in the chorus

... this could be a very dangerous drinking game.

I also listened to Kylie's Some Kind of Bliss and she does it in the chorus of that too on 'bliss'. I don't think it's her normal style so I can only guess she picked it up from James!

I'm really enjoying this thread by the way, thank you for starting it CaerphillyCheese. We should have more musicological Manics discussions!

Last edited by blackflower; 24-04-2020 at 12:24. Reason: To express due gratitude to the Cheese
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