Most musical vocal traditions seem to be melodic, i.e. singing. However, of course, rapping exists, which is rhythmic.

The question I have is, what other musical vocal styles exist that are primarily rhythmic?


Talking Blues is musical style involving rhythmic talking, typically over a blues chord progression. A favourite example of mine is the verses of Johnny Cash's One piece at a time.

The Haka is a traditional Maori war cry that is now better known from its performances by the All Blacks. Similarly, the Tongans are known for their Sipi Tau.

Bid Calling is a rhythmic and somewhat musical vocal style that has been developed by auctioneers in the United States.

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  • By no means comprehensive - just a few to start us off! – user16 Dec 12 '15 at 15:28

Eefing (or 'eephing') is a kind of fast Appalachian yodel that is so fast that it has little sense of a melody, and is sometimes described (uncharitably) as Hillbilly beatboxing - beatboxing being a more recent rhythmic vocal style that originated as an imitation of drum machines and turntablist techniques.

Some traditional nursery rhymes (particularly skipping/clapping rhymes) are often chanted with no melody - such as Piggy on the railway and I tiddly eye tie eat brown bread. These could be seen as a kind of poetry - another form of poetry that emphasises rhythm in its performance is dub poetry, itself a cousin of Jamaican toasting techniques that may be melodic, but are also sometimes primarily rhythmic (for example, Smiley Culture's Cockney Translation) and are in turn one of the roots of rap music.

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