Thursday, May 19, 2005

In the mainstream

I had a nice long talk with my daughter-in-law about the ornamentation phenomenon. We are all in agreement that it developed to its present state in gospel and then suddenly jumped to mainstream.

Whitney Houston had this background, and the people managing her recording career carefully tried to squeeze the ornamentation inclinations out of her to make her sound more like a mainstream artist. She is probably the main person to bring ornamentation into the mainstream.

How Mariah Carey fits into this is a little harder to understand. Hers is not dead on gospel to my ears. I liked it that I was able to find a video that showed the pure, excessively ornamented style with no attempts to clean it up. Grandma wouldn’t like it, I guess. I’m a step-grandma, and I think it’s pretty interesting. It doesn’t make me want to abandon Ella Fitzgerald, though.

I don’t think it can be squeezed out. Pandora’s box has been opened. If you want that, if for you the emotion all goes out of it when you leave the ornaments out, it’s going to come out in your singing.

Everyone is doing it now. The biggest problem with this style and the fact that absolutely everyone wants to do it is that it’s tough. It would be fun to try to transcribe what they’re actually singing. I hear traditional arpeggios and the other ornaments Handel might put into a piece with completely different rhythmic requirements and pitch elements. If the singer doesn’t really get it, it can sound pretty awful.

Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera are technically flawed singers which makes them hard for me to listen to. They don’t try to bridge their registers. I’d rather listen to someone do this that sings better. Whitney Houston used to be awesome. Fantasia is quite nice. It was the rap in her album that I couldn’t stand. When I hear rap, I think music has died.

The new ornamented style shows that music is still alive in people’s souls. I feel very encouraged.

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