October 18, 2018

Introduction to Scat Singing

Ever want to sing a jazz song, but you’re not so great at remembering lots of lyrics? Scat music may be just what you’re looking for, because there ARE no real lyrics! Scat music is all about rhythmic patterns, underlying melodies, and letting the rhythm flow through you and conveying it to your audience without getting caught up in words and lyrics.

Ella Fitzgerald Scat Enjoy CT Live

Ella Fitzgerald, queen of Scat singing

Often performers use scat phrases to emulate horns in music, like Billie Holiday emulating the trumpet of Ben Webster. Scat music is similar to acapella music in the sounds that would normally come from an instrument come from your voice instead. This creative form of music first came around after Louis Armstrong’s sheet music once accidentally fell to the studio floor while he was reading it to sing, and has taken the world by storm ever since. The idea of scat singing has also made its way into other genres; some rappers and hip-hop artists use scatting to come up with the rhythms for their raps or songs. Scat singing is a great way to come up with a melody without becoming weighted down with lyrics.

Scat Notes Enjoy CT LiveWhile scat music may seem very free-flowing and improvisational, often times it follows pre-determined formulas and patterns. There is an art to scatting that all the most well-known scat musicians have learned, practiced, and perfected. You have to feel the swing of the music, and be able to carefully select which scat phrases you should use, and when. “Da” and “Ba” may seem similar, but any scat musician will tell you that they’re not as interchangeable as they seem.

Scat Singing Enjoy CT Live

For some classic scat singing examples, check out Ella Fitzgerald’s “How High the Moon” and Louis Armstrong’s “Ain’t Misbehavin'”. If you’d like to learn how to scat sing yourself, there are plenty of books on the subject, such as “Hear it and Sing it” by Judy Niemack, and “Scat!” by Bob Stoloff. There are also plenty of scat singing tutorials on sites like YouTube.

Cab Calloway Scat Enjoy CT Live

Cab Calloway, Scat Singer

For more information on jazz music and live jazz events around Connecticut, visit Enjoy CT Live. For more information on scat singing, visit the Jazz Times or the scat singing Wikipedia page