Morrissey's Virtuoso Singing

I just joined this forum because I had to discuss this. I hardly knew any Morrissey/Smiths songs until this year. I got asked to work out a large proportion of the Smiths catalogue. So I've been working out Morrissey's vocals for the Smiths songs. I've been a professional musician for 20 years now, often working with singers. And I must say, I'm astounded by Morrissey's vocal rhythmic ability. One thing that he does I have to mention - it's a bit technical and will be lost on many - but I just had to write about it somewhere. When I worked out what he was doing, I assumed he must be a classically trained singer.

So anyone who has played an instrument for a while will be familiar with triplets. Basically you sing 3 notes evenly across 1 beat. It's quite technically proficient in it's own right. It's EXTREMELY difficult to teach people to do it. But some singers do it instinctively in certain contexts. Usually only professionally trained ones I might add. Well it took me a while - and I had to use computer software to figure it out - but Morrissey often uses triplets - but the amazing thing is he begins a triplet on an off-beat. So instead of beginning it on say beat 3, he begins it on beat 3 & a half. I am pretty analytical with music - but I can't figure out for the life of me how he can do it.

I just worked out an example for any geeks who might be interested (I'm sure there won't be many such people but here it is anyway) - and I only realised when I play it back and it sounded wrong because I'd worked it out wrong - then I worked out he's done this crazy technique yet again. And this has happened with a number of songs I've been working out of his.

So here's the example. In Reel Around the Fountain, the line 'And people said that they were virtually dead, AND THE WERE so wrong.'

The triplets are the 3 words AND THEY WERE. So the word 'AND' begins on beat 3 & a half. Then the word after the triplet is 'so' and this word begins on beat 4 & a half. Hence the 3 words AND THEY WERE are triplets, beginning on beat 3 & a half, and spanning one beat ending on beat 4 & a half.

How on earth does he know how to do this? I don't know. Perhaps Morrisey just has a genius level rhythmic ability - like some have perfect pitch. It's just crazy. As someone who plays multiple instruments and has taught for 20 years I consider myself to have natural rhythmic ability only matched by a small proportion of the population. (There are other musical areas where I am weaker - but rhythm is one of my strongest abilities). But Morrissey's ability in this matter astounds me.
 
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Probably helps that he read a lot of poetry aloud at a certain point in his life
 

Gregor Samsa

I straighten up, and my position is one of hope.
I just joined this forum because I had to discuss this. I hardly knew any Morrissey/Smiths songs until this year. I got asked to work out a large proportion of the Smiths catalogue. So I've been working out Morrissey's vocals for the Smiths songs. I've been a professional musician for 20 years now, often working with singers. And I must say, I'm astounded by Morrissey's vocal rhythmic ability. One thing that he does I have to mention - it's a bit technical and will be lost on many - but I just had to write about it somewhere. When I worked out what he was doing, I assumed he must be a classically trained singer.

So anyone who has played an instrument for a while will be familiar with triplets. Basically you sing 3 notes evenly across 1 beat. It's quite technically proficient in it's own right. It's EXTREMELY difficult to teach people to do it. But some singers do it instinctively in certain contexts. Usually only professionally trained ones I might add. Well it took me a while - and I had to use computer software to figure it out - but Morrissey often uses triplets - but the amazing thing is he begins a triplet on an off-beat. So instead of beginning it on say beat 3, he begins it on beat 3 & a half. I am pretty analytical with music - but I can't figure out for the life of me how he can do it.

I just worked out an example for any geeks who might be interested (I'm sure there won't be many such people but here it is anyway) - and I only realised when I play it back and it sounded wrong because I'd worked it out wrong - then I worked out he's done this crazy technique yet again. And this has happened with a number of songs I've been working out of his.

So here's the example. In Reel Around the Fountain, the line 'And people said that they were virtually dead, AND THE WERE so wrong.'

The triplets are the 3 words AND THEY WERE. So the word 'AND' begins on beat 3 & a half. Then the word after the triplet is 'so' and this word begins on beat 4 & a half. Hence the 3 words AND THEY WERE are triplets, beginning on beat 3 & a half, and spanning one beat ending on beat 4 & a half.

How on earth does he know how to do this? I don't know. Perhaps Morrisey just has a genius level rhythmic ability - like some have perfect pitch. It's just crazy. As someone who plays multiple instruments and has taught for 20 years I consider myself to have natural rhythmic ability only matched by a small proportion of the population. (There are other musical areas where I am weaker - but rhythm is one of my strongest abilities). But Morrissey's ability in this matter astounds me.
Welcome to So-Low!
I’m a non-musician, but find this interesting. RATF is 38 years old, do you know if he still uses this technique?
 

Light Housework

drawing/coloring
I just joined this forum because I had to discuss this. I hardly knew any Morrissey/Smiths songs until this year. I got asked to work out a large proportion of the Smiths catalogue. So I've been working out Morrissey's vocals for the Smiths songs. I've been a professional musician for 20 years now, often working with singers. And I must say, I'm astounded by Morrissey's vocal rhythmic ability. One thing that he does I have to mention - it's a bit technical and will be lost on many - but I just had to write about it somewhere. When I worked out what he was doing, I assumed he must be a classically trained singer.

So anyone who has played an instrument for a while will be familiar with triplets. Basically you sing 3 notes evenly across 1 beat. It's quite technically proficient in it's own right. It's EXTREMELY difficult to teach people to do it. But some singers do it instinctively in certain contexts. Usually only professionally trained ones I might add. Well it took me a while - and I had to use computer software to figure it out - but Morrissey often uses triplets - but the amazing thing is he begins a triplet on an off-beat. So instead of beginning it on say beat 3, he begins it on beat 3 & a half. I am pretty analytical with music - but I can't figure out for the life of me how he can do it.

I just worked out an example for any geeks who might be interested (I'm sure there won't be many such people but here it is anyway) - and I only realised when I play it back and it sounded wrong because I'd worked it out wrong - then I worked out he's done this crazy technique yet again. And this has happened with a number of songs I've been working out of his.

So here's the example. In Reel Around the Fountain, the line 'And people said that they were virtually dead, AND THE WERE so wrong.'

The triplets are the 3 words AND THEY WERE. So the word 'AND' begins on beat 3 & a half. Then the word after the triplet is 'so' and this word begins on beat 4 & a half. Hence the 3 words AND THEY WERE are triplets, beginning on beat 3 & a half, and spanning one beat ending on beat 4 & a half.

How on earth does he know how to do this? I don't know. Perhaps Morrisey just has a genius level rhythmic ability - like some have perfect pitch. It's just crazy. As someone who plays multiple instruments and has taught for 20 years I consider myself to have natural rhythmic ability only matched by a small proportion of the population. (There are other musical areas where I am weaker - but rhythm is one of my strongest abilities). But Morrissey's ability in this matter astounds me.
My audition of me singing My Love Life
 

Radis Noir

Well-Known Member
I just joined this forum because I had to discuss this. I hardly knew any Morrissey/Smiths songs until this year. I got asked to work out a large proportion of the Smiths catalogue. So I've been working out Morrissey's vocals for the Smiths songs. I've been a professional musician for 20 years now, often working with singers. And I must say, I'm astounded by Morrissey's vocal rhythmic ability. One thing that he does I have to mention - it's a bit technical and will be lost on many - but I just had to write about it somewhere. When I worked out what he was doing, I assumed he must be a classically trained singer.

So anyone who has played an instrument for a while will be familiar with triplets. Basically you sing 3 notes evenly across 1 beat. It's quite technically proficient in it's own right. It's EXTREMELY difficult to teach people to do it. But some singers do it instinctively in certain contexts. Usually only professionally trained ones I might add. Well it took me a while - and I had to use computer software to figure it out - but Morrissey often uses triplets - but the amazing thing is he begins a triplet on an off-beat. So instead of beginning it on say beat 3, he begins it on beat 3 & a half. I am pretty analytical with music - but I can't figure out for the life of me how he can do it.

I just worked out an example for any geeks who might be interested (I'm sure there won't be many such people but here it is anyway) - and I only realised when I play it back and it sounded wrong because I'd worked it out wrong - then I worked out he's done this crazy technique yet again. And this has happened with a number of songs I've been working out of his.

So here's the example. In Reel Around the Fountain, the line 'And people said that they were virtually dead, AND THE WERE so wrong.'

The triplets are the 3 words AND THEY WERE. So the word 'AND' begins on beat 3 & a half. Then the word after the triplet is 'so' and this word begins on beat 4 & a half. Hence the 3 words AND THEY WERE are triplets, beginning on beat 3 & a half, and spanning one beat ending on beat 4 & a half.

How on earth does he know how to do this? I don't know. Perhaps Morrisey just has a genius level rhythmic ability - like some have perfect pitch. It's just crazy. As someone who plays multiple instruments and has taught for 20 years I consider myself to have natural rhythmic ability only matched by a small proportion of the population. (There are other musical areas where I am weaker - but rhythm is one of my strongest abilities). But Morrissey's ability in this matter astounds me.

That phrase in the 'The Smiths' song book is notated as a quaver, two semi-quavers, two quavers tied over the bar line and finish on a dotted crotchet. That's how I hear it although I concede my eyes may be guiding my ears as it were. The rhythms and timings on that song are very fluid and that fluidity of phrasing is one of Morrissey's more endearing vocal traits.
If you have further examples to back up your point I'd be interested in hearing what they are.
 
Probably helps that he read a lot of poetry aloud at a certain point in his life
That's an interesting idea. I have spent years studying song writing, and I eventually came to the conclusion that a song is perhaps poetry, with the melody simply 'riding' the underlying chords. There is a limit to the number of chord sequences that can be used - I'd say at least a quarter of pop songs in the charts use the same chord sequence. The singer often sings one of the (3) notes of the current chord (actually more often one of 2 notes - the 3rd or the 5th) and simply moves to a consecutive note if the next chord doesn't contain the note he or she is currently singing. In other words, there's less 'melodic innovation' than we might like to believe. And I feel like the slight ups and downs of melody are perhaps imitating the natural intonation of how we speak. So perhaps melody writing could be seen as delivery of poetry over a chord sequence?
 
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