Van Morrison - Tupelo Honey

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Background Information

  • biography
    • Van Morrison is an Irish singer and songwriter who has enjoyed many hits in the course of a long career
    • born in Belfast
    • musical style influenced by his Celtic roots and his father - a collector of imported American jazz and blues records
    • Tupelo Honey is:
      • the name of the album on which this track appeared on in 1971
      • a sweet type of honey, native to Florida - Morrison's home in the early 1970s
    • 7 minutes long - unusual for pop singles, though not so unusual for album tracks at this time
    • chords and melody of this song have much in common with another Morrison hit: 'crazy love'
    • two tracks have been performed together by Morrison

Performing forces and their handling

  • Morrison's vocal line is influenced by soul/gospel and celtic singing styles
  • mainly syllabic, few melismas ('to' in bar 11)
  • range of an eleventh (F-Bb) with high Bb only appearing in coda 1 towards the end
  • higher notes are occasionally sung falsetto
  • backing vocals used in dialogue with lead vocals in verses 2, 3 and 4 and in coda 1 and the final coda
  • guitars - both electric and acoustic - are used in a restrained melodic way
  • some strummed chords but much melodic interest
  • both guitars keep up a dialogue with the lead vocals throughout the verses, playing short, florid passages, in a high register, similar to the lead vocal line
  • piano/organ provides chordal backing throughout - piano is occasionally more prominent with improvised 'fills'
  • drums play a reasonably straight rock beat throughout -  increasing use of cymbal crashes, tom-tom fills, normally at the ends of phrases
  • the bass plays a repetitive line with improvised variations - bars 1 and 3 of the four bar phrase normally contain Bb descending to an A (varied with an upward arpeggio in the choruses, bar 37 to 40 and 45 to 57), while bars 2 and 4 contain either a syncopated figure in quavers Eb-C-F-Bb or a chromatic move up; Eb - Eb - Enatural - F
  • other beats are filled with decorative quaver and semiquaver rhythms
  • flute plays a simple two bar idea at beginning and end of track -

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