I am looking for a word for a song recording where the lyrics have been removed, leaving only the instruments and backing vocals. "Instrumental" misses the nuance of this particular situation.

Would there be a seperate word for removing the lyrics from the verses, but leaving the chorus unaffected?

I am organizing a catalog of digital files and am looking to differentiate versions of songs that have been manipulated as above.

  • 1
    I admit I'm not very familiar with music recordings, but why would they only remove the lyrics from the verses, not the choruses? If it's for karaoke, as suggested in the answer, don't the participants sing both sections?
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 13 at 17:20
  • The tracks in question are from editing and sampling. From the deep recesses of my memory, I thought there was a term that described these based on the nature of the track (being edited). Whereas labeling it as karaoke describes it by it's usage. Using the karaoke tag for the files would be enough for me to flag or filter those tracks as being not album or live performances, but I was hoping to find a more apt term.
    – Mike
    Commented Jan 13 at 23:31

2 Answers 2


I believe the term is "karaoke version," which means the original vocals have been removed, leaving only the instruments and backing vocals.

  • I haven't seen a definition specifying that the backing vocals are retained. Commented Jan 13 at 14:27
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth When you singing karaoke, you're taking the place of the lead singer(s). It would probably sound weird without the backing vocals, which are more like part of the band.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 13 at 17:22
  • @Barmar Checking, it seems that karaoke versions optionally retain (or have added) backing vocals. So purely instrumental versions are available. Commented Jan 13 at 18:24
  • @EdwinAshworth I admit that I've never actually been to a karaoke bar, so all I know is from what I've seen on TV and movies.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 13 at 18:25
  • The other even more generic term would be "backing track", which implies some element is omitted to be filled in in live performance, but not always/solely vocals.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 13 at 18:44

You may be ascribing this lack of nuance... instrumental describes a song without lyrics. If it's personal preference for which you seek affirmation, then it should not matter, karaoke version should suffice. However, an "instrumental version" denotes a song that has lyrics, but is recorded without; thus, differentiating it from a regular instrumental song.

  • This answer matches my informal understanding of the terms "instrumental' and "instrumental version," as used in the U.S. I'm not sure why it was downvoted, although it would certainly be stronger if you added a reference to a published authority that supports the distinction that you make here.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jan 13 at 22:32
  • 1
    As you said, this is a song that was recorded without voices, not one where the voice track was removed from the recording. Instrumental versions are often very different, since they have to replace the vocals with instruments that play the melody. Think of Xmas carols played in the mall.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 14 at 0:00

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