söndag 22 februari 2015

The tempo of the heartbeat

The composers and lyricists born around the turn of the 20th century produced the greatest body of popular songs ever written.

It Had To Be You
It Had To Be You
I wandered around
And finally found
The somebody who...

The musicologist Philip Furia calls that "who" - which has to wait for the song's next section to get its verb and its rhyme ("could make me be true") - the first example in the American Songbook of what he calls "elasticated syntax", where the lyricist stretches the syntax across the boundaries of the composer's eight-bar compartments. If so, it was made for Sinatra's Dorsey-trombone trick of holding a note and connecting it up to the next phrase in order to tell the story better. If you've ever heard a singer take a big deep breath after "somebody who" and leave a gap you could drive a truck through before "could make me be true", you'll know they're not listening to what they're singing.

Mark Steyn