The record

Oddityviz record number seven, like number six, deconstructs Bowie's vocal line. But this time it's all about the notes in the melody. 

The vocal part of Space Oddity contrasts sections of near-monotone, revolving around one or two repeated notes, with more lyrical, wide-ranging melodies. Here, groups of lines show which pitches occur in each melodic phrase, with higher notes towards the middle of the record. 

The record also displays the waveform of the lead vocal track. Where Bowie's voice sings as Ground Control, the waveform comes out from the middle of the record and where he sings as Major Tom, the waveform comes in from the outside.

 
07_Melody_key1.jpg

Line thickness shows the number of times each pitch is repeated within the phrase. The thicker the line, the more the phrase is centred around that note. Line length represents phrase duration.

 

At the beginning, Bowie’s voice enters as Ground Control. Low and nasal, it mimics a radio-distorted voice with childish flair. After liftoff, the melody soars into a higher register as Ground Control gets excited, but then returns to the near-monotone (‘And the papers want to know whose shirt you wear’).

Major Tom initially parrots Ground Control’s melody but soon departs from it with a more lyrical, introspective one (‘For here am I sitting in a tin can’).

Ground Control’s barking monotone returns for the vocal bridge, this time centred a tone higher as the panic sets in (‘Can you hear me Major Tom?’) But Major Tom is caught up in a melody of his own, and cannot hear him.

 

Print for sale