“Follow My Voice”:
Structure and Improvisation in Björk’s ‘Mouth’s Cradleʼ
'Mouth’s Cradle', from Björk’s 2004 album Medúlla, combines a vocal line of considerable flexibility with a carefully outlined yet rather unusual structure. This article discusses the inspiration behind the song and analyze its structure. A particular focus is the interaction of structure and improvisation, the tension that exists between the inherent flexibility of Björkʼs melodic impulse and a formal scheme that is worked out in full only during the later stages of the creative process. In addition to the analysis of the song as it appears on Medúlla, the article also compares two later live performances that differ considerably in the treatment of a key moment in the song. By way of contrast, the article also discusses the ostinato-based 'Oceania', from the same album, which demonstrates a very different approach to the limits of structure and improvisation.
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