Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cat Dowling - Effectively Matching Syllables to Notes

     We recognize that song writing is a difficult task. We also recognize that the last sentence is the type that is typically followed by the word “but.” BUT, why do so many songwriters simply turn a single syllable word into multiple syllabic terms. The easy answer is that it is a technique for achieving a note-to-word match – in certain portions of a song, the number of notes must match the number of words.
   However (notice the change from the one syllable “but” to three syllables in "however"), does it harm the flow of a song to find a synonym which has the required number of syllables? For most songs, the answer is “no” (or if you prefer the four-syllable version “no ,oh, oh, oh”). It’s just easier to draw out the word, and be finished with the song.

     Lately, we started paying attention to songs that overcome our negative attitude toward stretching out words to achieve the match. They certainly exist, More difficult is the task of finding a song in which the increase in the normal number of syllables of a word adds to the attractiveness of the song. This blog post is about such a song. The song is "Come On" by Cat Dowling. The syllabic increase is subtle at times, less subtle at others. But the increase is frequent, particularly early in the song. For example, at the 0:46 second mark of “Come On," a number of the words are stretched in the lyrics:
 “So come on.
Stand tall.
Get off your knees.
I’m asking you please.
Come on.
Don’t you crawl.
And get off your knees.
And get off your knees.”

     It’s a combination of the message and the conviction to that message that makes the word stretching a positive to the song, rather than a negative. The melancholy voice within a song that is seemingly intended to be inspirational is effective.
     And the video only adds to the song's “feel.” Unfortunately, the sound resolution of the video is less than that of the SoundCloud release, so we’re including both.

     Cat Downing is from Dublin, Ireland. Until recently, she fronted for Alphastates. “Come On” will be a single on her upcoming release of the album “The Believer” (March 22 release in Ireland).

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