Ululation sensation
August 8, 2018 3:27 AM   Subscribe

In this song by Erasure (at 1.06), Andy Bell does something with their voice that reminds me a lot of people singing in Arabic. Echo and The Bunnymen's The Promise has a similar feel. What is this called? Are there other very Western songs that use the same technique?
posted by mippy to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can't quite hear this on the song you posted, but Pray for Me by Kendrick Lamar & The Weekend has background singers distinctly ululating in the chorus.
posted by Shazbot at 3:34 AM on August 8, 2018

posted by flabdablet at 4:25 AM on August 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yup, melisma is the term that came immediately to mind for me. Very common in female R&B vocals - think Mariah Carey.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:33 AM on August 8, 2018

Sting featured Cheb Mami in Desert Rose. I know that Sting can drive people bonkers BecauseSting but it's a good example.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:37 AM on August 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh! I never think of melisma as being something on the lower end of the scale, for some reason. Do'h!
posted by mippy at 6:06 AM on August 8, 2018

Are you just talking about the vocal technique or are you also talking about the specific scales that they run between? Because it will be the scales that make it sound Arabic or in Erasure's case, like a Hindustani "scale". Is it the shift between 1:09 and 1:10 or is it the entire run of the scale? There is probably a proper name for it in Indian music. I will ask my friend who is a Sitar player. I think 'Alankar' might be the name but I can't be 100%. I shall return.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 6:37 AM on August 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

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