One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounPlural melismas, Plural melismataMusic
A group of notes sung to one syllable of text.‘the melismas of plainchant’mass noun ‘the most poetic words can be given more emotive power by using melisma’
- ‘The melisma is a transposition of the notes E, F, C and B, and it appears frequently throughout the work.’
- ‘The opulent, yet bright orchestration and the chromatic melismata around the tritone and the melodic minor scale all point toward the composer of Schelomo.’
- ‘A successful production of Poppea depends not upon operatic voices but upon singing actors who can color their voices and make drama out of the expressive melismas and coloratura.’
- ‘The solo viola engages in some exotic melismas in this movement too.’
- ‘The vocal lines, tailored to the soprano voice of Heidi Grant Murphy, are characterized by wide pitch fluctuations, melismas, and extrapolated sounds.’
Late 19th century: from Greek, literally ‘melody’.
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