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La la las (or the like) in songs

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Recently I submitted a song with chorus' made of la, la, las which are a form of "non-lexical vocables" (a new term I just learned from the great wikipedia).  I'm not a prolific songwriter and this would be the first time I thought to do such a thing. Does anyone else here use them, or do you try to stay away from using them for any reason?  When do you decide when to use them?  It's something I never thought about before, but there are many instances of songs that I can think of that incorporate these.  Actually some of my most favorite sing-a-long tunes have these in them and it seems like they can often be very catchy and seemingly make songs more accessible to listeners.

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I have a song, well only lyrics for the chorus so far actually, but really like it and plan to finish it soon. The chorus starts with...

 

Oh oh oh oh you've got it all

Oh oh oh oh you've got it all

Oh oh oh oh you've got it all

 

Which looks nuts on paper, but actually really works. It has a real singalong quality to it and I do like it a lot. The next lines are pretty dark in comparison and the contrast between singalong nursery rhyme and the dark lines to follow seem to marry well together.

 

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I am also working on a song that uses the ohs.

 

It is the first time I have ever done it but it feels right for the song.

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Yes, they work great in songs. Listeners love the sing along aspect of them. Listen to fellow Muse Songwriters member ScenesFromPalacio. I haven’t listened to his recent songs lately. But many of his past contests songs use this very affectively. I generally like hearing it if it’s done correctly but I hardly if ever use it in my own songs. 

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2 things popped in my head after reading this:

 

1.  I remember watching a documentary (or some show) where Eddie Murphy is talking about being hesitant with his jokes and in a discussion with Richard Pryor, Pryor says something to the effect of "Man, do people laugh when you say it?"... when Eddie answers "yes".... Richard says "Man, you better say that sh**!"   Heh... I think a similar thing applies to music.  Does it sound good to you?  Do other people agree?  If so... go with it.   Side note: isn't it weird where we get our life lessons from some times? heh

 

2.  I read somewhere that during the long and arduous production of "The Boxer", Paul Simon always intended to replace the chorus with an actual song lyric.  In the end, it sounded so good to others that he was convinced to leave it.  Even now he says he is embarrassed that there aren't words there when hearing it.  There are a couple lessons in that story.

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5 hours ago, Triffid said:

 

 

2.  I read somewhere that during the long and arduous production of "The Boxer", Paul Simon always intended to replace the chorus with an actual song lyric.  In the end, it sounded so good to others that he was convinced to leave it.  Even now he says he is embarrassed that there aren't words there when hearing it.  There are a couple lessons in that story.

In the case of The Boxer I would have thought one lesson is that if you don't put words in your chorus then watch out cos the crowd in the bar will add their own words into the Chorus for you.

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I've never written song using them, but use them when doing a song live (solo) for the tag or lead line.  People do like to sing along when they don't have to remember the words!

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As common as it is, I've never gotten comfortable with substituting sounds for actual lyrics.

That being said, I have done it.

The example that comes to mind is "A Simpler Christmas"...written with a "Fa la la" refrain section.

Honestly, I felt a little cheesy doing it, but it seemed to work pretty well for the song :blush:

I've also used ohhhs, in the refrain of one of my early tunes ("Company Man")

I guess if it sounds good, do it!

 

Tom

 

BTW I had no idea there was a technical name for it. Learn something new every day! 

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Funny, it was only in conversation with Qindfish about his song "The story of a Hermit" where we shared a mutual affection for Regina Spektor, that I realised she is the master (or mistress?) of this " non-lexicon vocables" idea.

 

I could pick quite a few examples from her work but this one is a good one. She is crackers but have always loved the idea that someone can be so confident to just make noises instead of singing (There is one song she just makes Dolphin sounds as a chorus and it still works!).

 

 

 

 

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On 3/5/2018 at 08:22, Onewholovesrock said:

Yes, they work great in songs. Listeners love the sing along aspect of them. Listen to fellow Muse Songwriters member ScenesFromPalacio. I haven’t listened to his recent songs lately. But many of his past contests songs use this very affectively. I generally like hearing it if it’s done correctly but I hardly if ever use it in my own songs. 

Just heard his "Weeping Angels"...I really like the outro of that song with the oohohh yeaheah.

 

On 3/6/2018 at 04:13, Murphster said:

I could pick quite a few examples from her work but this one is a good one. She is crackers but have always loved the idea that someone can be so confident to just make noises instead of singing (There is one song she just makes Dolphin sounds as a chorus and it still works!).

Although I knew the name, I never heard her music.  I'll check her out.  The Eet song is a great example!

 

Some of my personal favorites are from the Rolling Stones.  The crying sounds Mick Jagger makes in "Emotional Rescue" and "Daddy Your A Fool to Cry".  The chorus sounds in Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) and Sympathy for the Devil...  I really think the "non lexical vocals" brought them up to a whole new level of song. 

 

I think the non lexical vocal is a great way to bring out the melody...sometimes words just get in the way.

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I haven't used it either, though many have, heck even Bob Dylan's done it. I might have to do it or at least try it in the near future. Good topic! Maybe this might be an idea for a future contest challenge, every song must have a la la la section?!?! Or not. What do I know.

 

:)

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On 3/6/2018 at 09:13, Murphster said:

She is crackers but ....

A good kind of crackers!

 

I like her! I've seen her stuff before but always forget about her. I may need to buy some - I'm charmed.

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I'd like this topic to run a bit more, it is really interesting to me. The more I have thought about it over the last few days the more I begin to realise how many of my favourite songs/artists actually use this device more often than I had ever really noticed.

 

So what is it that makes it actually plausible to use. And why do so very few songs here, for instance, use it. Is this an example of the difference between an amateur and a professional outlook on writing songs? 

 

I used the word "confidence" above in relation to Regina Spektor. I cant help but think it is a simple of just being confident. Maybe using strange sounds instead of words difficult for us people who, if you are anything like me, feel they are already putting too much of themselves out there when posting a song here that we try to keep it as conventional as possible just out of fear.

 

It's been interesting to think about and listen out for this week. I am looking to see how I can use this in some of my songs that just don't seem to be going anywhere and see if it can help.

 

This is probably my favourite Regina Spektor song, and she keeps it quite conventional for the most part, but this bridge wouldn't be anywhere near as effective has she actually sang words I think. It is an incredibly sad song really and the bridge seems to lift it, had she put words in there they would have had to have been more of the same.

 

So maybe it is about serving the song, why say something more when just sounds will do?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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