The Man I Love by Billie Holiday Analytical Essay

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Successful performances as a singer require much time and commitment. Mastering their signature vocal style, instrumentation, and form entails a persistent work ethic which develops into a discipline. The way a vocalist projects their sound can cause listeners to think and explore different emotions. A song performed by a different artist can provoke differing emotional reactions to each artist’s versions. For example, the way Billie Holiday sings “The Man I Love,’ is much different from the way Peggy Lee’s version of the same song. These two singers differ because of vocal style, instrumentation, and their emotional effects.

The Man I Love is performed by Billie Holiday and a small group of instruments. Holiday’s vocal style was slow and rough in tone. Her style manifested a new way of Jazz which was customarily upbeat and light. The combination of her vocal styles proved to be poignant and unique versions of songs that were previously sung and produced. She slowed every tone with emotive vocals that changed the timing and rhythm. Holiday brought innovative elements to jazz music. Her version of the song tells a story of sadness.

Billie Holiday’s voice was an expressive musical instrument. She could bend and glisten notes similarly to horn players. Holiday revised the rhythm of the song to her own interpretation. The pain in her voice is apparent when she drags on the lyrics ‘I will do my best to make him stay.’ The way her voices echoes slowly shows how desperate she is to find the love of her life. She sings and methodically plans situations involving him and what he looks like, but as she repeats the lyric one day, it becomes clear that she knows deep down that meeting the love of her life will not happen.

The song opens with trumpets that give the listeners the misconception that the rest of the song will be upbeat and cheerful. The piano flitters throughout the song lusciously. Her usage of the phrase ‘I will do my best to make him stay,’ accompanied by the melodious bar of horns, combines elegantly. The saxophone solo never deviates too far away from its soft chord, and it soothes the dreamy melody of Gershwin’s song along. During the closing minute, the cords and vocals begin to shift to minor intonations. The horns abruptly appear slightly mournful, not resolving as smoothly. They appear to be attempting to find a delightful middle ground and consequently forced the musicians to settle on these ambivalent closing notes.

Peggy Lee also sang Gershwin’s The Man I Love with the help of a tight orchestra. Peggy Lee was not a simple singer. Lee cultivated each movement she performed on stage, starting with the arch of her eyebrows, to the curve of her lips, to her heavy breathing during her lengthy concluding notes of a song. All these movements made her world famous, Peggy Lee expresses her emotions through the soft center of her notes. She is not a typical melody singer. Lee never carried a tune; she gracefully followed it. Her singing is characterized as a rhythmic style that moves throughout each beat, and swings as eccentrically and eccentrically as Billie Holiday.

The ballad begins with an atmospheric introduction, and throughout the sequence of vocalist and musical rhythm, they outline the synchronous grandeur and intimacy. The setting of the song consists of strings, French horn, and a harp is a very Appalachian spring. Her music is straightforward and precise. Without holding a broad range, she possessed a rare, caramelly sound that is full of mystery and expressiveness. The song starts by talking about love’s commencement ‘someday he will come along, the man I love,’ and closes with the soundest tune of romantic consistency, regarding love stretching throughout the rest of her days. The orchestra is plentiful yet subtle, and her sound is alluring and genial establishing a tender, passionate ambiance. Her vocals are limited, yet illustrate her vulnerability. Riddle’s orchestra maintains her vulnerability by using a lush string which gives the song hints of ominous feelings. During certain moments, she displays a lilting, heartfelt tone. The interlude between the reed and string instruments is Riddle’s masterpiece.

Everyone remembers a time when certain songs spurred their emotion. These certain songs expressed every feeling inside of someone. The Man I Love by both Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee elicit different emotions and styles, but they both harmonized the words people wished to say, and the song revealed the words people could not speak.


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The Man I Love by Billie Holiday Analytical Essay. (2021, Aug 14). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-man-i-love-by-billie-holiday/

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