Global Notes: “Vocables” and the Global Influence of Brazil's Rhythmic, Wordless Chants

The sun sets over the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, July 4, 2016. With the Olympics set to start on Aug. 5, the games and the city have been overshadowed by security threats, violence, the Zika virus and a national political corruption scandal.
The sun sets over the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, July 4, 2016. With the Olympics set to start on Aug. 5, the games and the city have been overshadowed by security threats, violence, the Zika virus and a national political corruption scandal. Felipe Dana / AP Photo
The sun sets over the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, July 4, 2016. With the Olympics set to start on Aug. 5, the games and the city have been overshadowed by security threats, violence, the Zika virus and a national political corruption scandal.
The sun sets over the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, July 4, 2016. With the Olympics set to start on Aug. 5, the games and the city have been overshadowed by security threats, violence, the Zika virus and a national political corruption scandal. Felipe Dana / AP Photo

Global Notes: “Vocables” and the Global Influence of Brazil's Rhythmic, Wordless Chants

The term “non-lexical vocables” was first defined by Christine Knox Chambers in her doctoral thesis “Non-lexical vocables in Scottish traditional music”. “Non-lexical vocables”, also known simply as “vocables”, are sounds that are sung, spoken or written but have no semantic meaning. Vocables can imitate sounds from nature: like animals or onomatopoeia. And sometimes vocables mimic instruments and their rhythms. On this week’s Global Notes, Worldview production assistant Galilee Abdullah talks about vocables in various kinds of music, and how the non-lexical chants of Brazilian popular music made its way to the U.S.