What is the term when a singer uses multiple notes for a long word? Not one syllable, but an entire word?

An example of this would be Solar Fake's song, Just Leave It, and the word is "significantly". So, he uses one note per syllable, not multiple notes for one syllable.

  • People more often describe the opposite. To use multiple pitches for a single syllable is melisma (or, adjective, melismatic). A syllabic setting is more the default. You mentioned the word "significantly," but most words in that song seem to be set syllabically. Maybe you're actually thinking more about the rhythm, in which the syllables of "significantly" are given short notes with lots of space in between them, more than the word would normally have when spoken. Nov 29, 2022 at 14:35
  • Thank you very much!! Very appreciated!! 👍🏻
    – Mary GP
    Dec 3, 2022 at 12:58

2 Answers 2


Syllabic. Since it appertains to different notes, sung on different syllables, it makes sense that the term used is syllabic.

Medieval Gregorian plainchant used syllabic music, as does Indian Vedic recitation.

  • 1
    "Medieval Gregorian plainchant used syllabic music"—it does? I mean, I can definitely think of melismas in plainchant. Was there an early period in which they weren't used? Nov 29, 2022 at 14:32
  • @AndyBonner - I didn't mean exclusively. Just quoting Wiki... It was all a bit before my time, really.
    – Tim
    Nov 29, 2022 at 14:50
  • Thanks, again! I understand and appreciate your time and explanation; it makes sense.
    – Mary GP
    Dec 3, 2022 at 13:00

It's a melisma, I'm guessing you've already found out though. I'd like to know if that's what you were talking about.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.