Scat Singing

Scat singing, simply sometimes referred to as scat, initially came into existence at the turn of the 20th century and mainly is utilized by jazz singers to spruce a song up. It’ll involve improvising specific parts or even every part of a song utilizing the voice, without or with the use of gibberish terms of syllables. Even though different singers have been doing scat since early on, it was Louis Armstrong who was given credit for setting up the turning point for this style of singing with his ‘26 recording of “Heebie Jeebies,” a national bestseller.

Therefore, after Louis Armstrong ended up setting the pace for scat, several other jazz artists followed suit. One specific case included “Creole Love Call,” which was recorded on October 26, 1927 by Duke Ellington’s Orchestra and featured Adelaide Hall that sang the tune without having to use any words. Hall’s performance was described as being like a growl trumpeter. Duke Ellington repeated it again in ‘32, as he recorded “The Mooche,” one of his own renditions. Within the song, a low key trombone solo performed by Tricky Sam Nanton got followed up by Baby Cox, who sang scat that was similar to the said trombone number. In addition, groups such as The Boswell Sisters constantly integrated scat in their records, and went so far as to do some scatting in harmony. One outstanding example included their “It Don’t Mean a Thing” rendition.

But, prior to the WWII scat singing was reported by a handful of authorities as being indecent, even getting to the point in which it was banned from becoming broadcast over BBC radio within the 1930s.

The ‘60s witnessed traditional scat paving the path for the free jazz movement, whereby scat singers started incorporating sounds formerly considered non-musical within their recordings. The sounds included screams, laughter, and cries. In the 1970s, bop also was revived, leading to a greater and rekindled fascination with bop scat singing. Within this period, famous singers involved The Stooges, a protopunk band that was fronted by Iggy Pop who incorporated scat singing, within the form of screaming and vocal extemporation, into their albums referred to as Fun House and Raw Power.

For more information on our Jazz Singers and/or Sylvia Brooks, contact us at 562 420-9243.

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