Sunday, 12 February 2012

Police Quiz Blogger

Further to my mooted "Stamp Out Melisma in 1012" campaign...

I've just heard the word "melisma" used -- for the first time ever -- on the Sunday evening news on BBC Radio 4, in relation to Whitney Houston's so-far unexplained demise.  I had no idea it was fatal.

I have a watertight alibi for the last 48 hours, so don't be looking at me like that.  Hey, I liked "I Will Always Love You".

But be afraid, melisma-abusers, be very afraid.


struan said...

My favourite melisma,

My heart just beams,
it seems,
at neumes

Sorry, but your thousand year-old crusade rang some old bells to do with Mozarabic Plainchant, which looks lovely on the page, but nobody knows how to interpret. I know some photographers like that.

Mike C. said...


Oops, I'll leave my typo intact, or people will think you are insane.

Not come across "nooms" before, though I've seen plenty of them scattered across manuscripts. Looks the sort of word a French philosopher could usefully recycle (cf. "rhizomes").

After I have worked my dark magic upon the melismators, I may turn my attention to "singers with cutesy glottal stops and ditzy tuneless tunes", but I'll need a name -- Marling, perhaps?


struan said...

Mispronunciation is but one of many curses of the autodidact. I'd read about neumes long before I looked up the pronunciation, hence in *my* world it rhymes with 'seems'. I came across them because my girlfriend - now upgraded - is and was an early music fan, and infected me too.

Bibliodyssey has some nice illustrations:

Neumes, including quilismas, are used for modern plainchant. Despite also being used for things like Anglican psalmody, there's a strong whiff of Rome in the word, which would probably make any self-respecting French philosopher stub out his Gaulois in disgust.

Today's word is instead: 'folkkär' (folk-share). Literally, 'beloved of the people', it is used of high-art musicians and mainstream pop, but more often of saccharine third-rate Eurovision acts who somehow scraped a win in a regional qualification round some time in the mid-80s and have milked that tepid local fifteen minutes of fame for ever after.

Mike C. said...

Well, we're all autodidacts beyond a certain basic point... I knew a very talented philosopher who, through no fault of his own, had never studied German. He once made me weep with laughter by mispronouncing "Grundlegungen" as "Grundle Gungen". Of course, I knew how to pronounce it, but damned if I could understand it...

Bibliodyssey is a good site, isn't it? I keep meaning to do a post about it.

I think we might have an equivalent of "folkkär" in "national treasure", perhaps. Bruce Forsyth is a National Treasure, but Ted Hughes wasn't.


struan said...

Terry Wogan singing The Floral Dance hits about the right level.

Mind you, for a mainstream pet hate, you can do a lot worse than autotune.

Mike C. said...

Whatever else, I think we can be pretty sure that Whitney Houston didn't use Autotune. She had a glorious set of pipes, if a little too baroque in application for my taste, and anyone whose cousin is Dionne Warwick and whose godmother is Aretha Franklin is OK by me.


Tony_C said...

Benedictus, Benedi-i-cat!

How come I need TWO words to prove I'm not a robot these days?

Mike C. said...


Seems to be something new, since I changed to the new interface. I'll check it out.


Create Quiz said...

You did good job. Keep it on with this type of post.