Dance music singers should be seen and heard

Written by: Terry Church

Barbara Tucker, Michelle Weeks, Kenny Bobien and other famous house music vocalists appeared on stage at Britain’s Southport Weekender last weekend. They weren’t on the bill. They weren’t invited. They weren’t even real. But “if you weren’t paying attention, you would have sworn they were actually there in person,” says US DJ Kerri Chandler, who conjured up the apparitions in the middle of his set.

Kerri Chandler believes singers should be seen and heard. He feels so strongly about this, that he built a system that enables him to project singing and dancing 3D holograms of the vocalists behind the tracks in his collection, as he plays them in clubs. He hopes that by taking the spotlight away from the DJ booth and shining it onto the vocalists, their efforts and talent will be recognised.

“You never see vocalists in the clubs anymore,” says Kerri, who seems angry, perhaps even sad about their absence. “Nowadays, it’s all about the DJs and the producers, but the singers behind the records, the beautiful voices that gave house music its soul, deserve attention.”

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Vocal Training: Melisma

Melisma, in music, 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, where each syllable of text is matched to a single note. (Wiki)

Whitney Houston will be remembered as a master of “melisma”. But what is it and why did it influence a generation of singers and talent show aspirants?

The vocal technique traces its roots back to Gregorian chants and the ragas of Indian classical music.

In the modern era singers such as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Sam Cooke are credited with bringing melisma from the choirs of churches to mainstream audiences.

Mariah Carey’s Vision of Love was a notable use. But it was Houston who popularised it and stretched the standards by attaching complicated strings of notes to single syllables.

But the term “melisma” is still relatively obscure within the pop music industry, with the effect often described simply as “ad libbing” or “riffing”.

Read full article here at the BBC.