Roulade (music)

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A roulade is an elaborate embellishment of several notes sung to one syllable. It is most associated with (but not restricted to) the operatic coloratura vocal style. It consists of a single phrase, or could even be part of a longer phrase. It is more extended than ornaments such as a trill, mordent or turn, but not to the extent that it could be called a cadenza (which is usually more than one phrase and is extended enough to be considered a musical section in itself). It is usually performed in a rhythmically free style, either by use of rubato or over a musical pause and it is in this way that it is distinguished from a melisma. Examples are in the operatic works of Bellini and Donizetti and the Nocturnes of Chopin. Extended embellishments found in modern day Gospel vocalisations could be said to be roulades.

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