Fiona Apple

Whenever I want to really dig deep into perfect prosody, I often look to Fiona Apple. She is wonderful with words, a master at music, and top-notch with theatrical delivery that draws you in and forces you to empathize.

Often, her songs have a hectic feel, almost making you feel as though the protagonist is troubled or virtually insane. A great example is Left Alone. She uses wonderful words and imagery throughout. I mean, who else would think to use “moribund slut” and rhyme it with “orotund mutt”? The music sounds like a spy movie theme where the mystery is overcome by Armageddon. The way she uses tension and vibrato in just the right places to convey what she is talking about. Going straight into falsetto to talk about hardening herself, followed by a deeper tone for the word “tummy” (I love this because “tummy” is kind of a childish word, but when she says it, it is like an inner child listening to her gut).

Another example is Werewolf, where her delivery of dark imagery and feelings of remorse and self-blame are spot on. And of course, she sings “nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key” and places the minor chord there. Then, you can hear some anger in herself and her actions and coming to the conclusion avoidance is the best strategy when she compares the relationship to lava from the sea converting her into an island.

This type of perfect marriage of lyrics, music, and delivery are seen in almost all of her songs, some really happy (like Extraordinary Machine), or dealing with overactive mind and emotions (like Every Single Night).

Her songs make me want to be a better writer and musician. But most of all, she makes want to pay more attention to how I deliver the lyrics. How can I use dramatic or thematic sounds of my voice to better correlate to the words and music to draw the listener in and force them to accept what I am saying whether they want to or not. Simply put, she is amazing. There are examples from all of her albums where the harmony (not as in singing, as in the three points being married) is just amazing.

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