What are some words that describe using one's voice as an instrument, i.e. doing certain things with the voice, not necessarily just hitting particularly challenging higher/lower registers? Things like yodeling; a yodeler is a [word], someone who is [word], someone who can [word].

  • See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocal_music
    – iterums
    Oct 4, 2013 at 14:27
  • That's the descriptor I was looking for. How would you describe someone who does this, though? This is seemingly turning more and more confusing, but I'm looking for an adjective or something along those lines to describe someone who does things like this. Oct 4, 2013 at 14:37
  • To vocalize is to use the voice, as in speech or song or to sing without uttering words, especially to warm up the voice, practice vowel sounds, etc., before a performance. The term vocalization is usually used in connection with singing, but it can refer to speaking. I think most people who use their voice as an instrument would consider themselves singers, even yodelers.
    – JLG
    Oct 4, 2013 at 15:13
  • This is definitely better than anything I came up with. You can make a noun and a verb from it, as well. If this was an answer, I'd accept it. Thank you. Oct 4, 2013 at 16:22
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    If you're looking for a list of words like yodeling, beat boxing, scat singing, etc., then this question is probably not a good fit for the Stack Exchange format. If you're looking for a general term that covers all of those techniques, however, this is an interesting question. Oct 4, 2013 at 20:49

5 Answers 5


Singing ability in general is called vocal technique, and a skilled vocalist has good technical ability. More specific elements of vocal technique include breath control, phonation, resonation, articulation, pitch, range, tone, flexibility, agility, and vibrato. You can write:

Yodeling is a vocal technique.
He is a technical vocalist.
She can sing technically.

Vocal techniques like yodeling and scat singing that emphasize non-lexical vocables (nonsense syllables) are sometimes called voice instrumental music. Beatboxing specifically features vocal percussion and imitation or emulation of musical instruments; the latter also features prominently in some a capella styles. Thus, if you want to emphasize the instrument-like nature of a technique or singer, you can instead follow these examples (borrowed from the linked Wikipedia articles):

Scat singing is a type of voice instrumental music.
He is a vocal percussionist.
She can emulate instrumentation.

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    Note: Answer heavily revised to better suit the question. The original version was a bit condescending and not quite on point. Oct 10, 2013 at 22:07
  • 1
    The revised version is probably the best answer here. +1
    – MrHen
    Oct 10, 2013 at 22:31

I would use the word beatboxing. I have a friend that can do a full band while beatboxing, myself I can only do the horn section.

Beatboxing (also beatbox, beat box or b-box) is a form of vocal percussion primarily involving the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using one's mouth, lips, tongue, and voice. It may also involve singing, vocal imitation of turntablism, and the simulation of horns, strings, and other musical instruments. Beatboxing today is connected with hip-hop culture, being one of "the elements", although it is not limited to hip-hop music.1[2] The term "beatboxing" is sometimes used to refer to vocal percussion in general (see vocal percussion for details).

Here is a good example.

  • That wouldn't apply to a yodeler. I think OP is looking for a word that applies to all styles of vocal music that are not actual singing. Oct 4, 2013 at 16:18
  • @FrustratedWithFormsDesigner - There are many styles of beatboxing. I have heard things like yodeling, opera, whatever when people are beatboxing. It is all about how far they push the envelope. Oct 4, 2013 at 16:20
  • Amazing video! Beatboxing is certainly a legitimate category of vocalizing, as is yodeling, singing, barking and rapping. Oct 4, 2013 at 20:12
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    Beat boxing is cool and a good example of what the question asks about. However, if all of the responses are "list answers" like this, the question will be a mess. Oct 4, 2013 at 20:52

There is a specific type of what you are talking about called vocal percussion - using your voice to make the kinds of sounds normally associated with drums and other percussion instruments.

Also, a group of people like this performing together (without accompanying instruments) is often called an a capella group. Literally, this is Italian for "in the manner of the church", but I don't think people mentally associate them with choirs or religion much anymore.

  • I don't think vocal percussion refers to yodeling, nor to other vocalizations that the question seems to be including.
    – sarah
    Nov 17, 2013 at 2:42

A Capella: using your mouth to make music/musical instruments. Usually used with a group of people. An example of this would be Pentatonix, which is a group of people who make remixes using a capella.


I would suggest chime,

A melodious ringing sound produced by striking a set of chimes

But it can be used in the form of human context; for example:

'Beauuuuty is a beguiling call to death and I'm addicted to the sweet pitch of its 
 siren.', chimed Tom.

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