Publication Date


Document Type



Lilting, vocables, Irish, nonsense, dance, traditional music, vocal music


This paper seeks to provide a foundation for understanding lilting, a traditional type of vocal music found in Ireland that involves improvising non-lexical vocables to dance tunes, in order to help preserve this genre in its traditional form as well as encourage its transformation and incorporation into modern music. Through a case study, this research paper demonstrates certain features and patterns that may characterize traditional lilting. A recording of Seamus Fay’s performance of the traditional folk jig, “Humours of Ballyloughlin,” has been transcribed for analysis and examined for possible relationships of vocables or vowels to music and vocables to other vocables. Characteristics suggested by the transcription include the importance of [d], the extent of the vocable vocabulary used throughout the piece, the typical arrangement of vocables in relation to one another, and the connection between vocables to metric accents and vowels to agogic accents.







Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


DigitalCommons@Cedarville provides a publication platform for fully open access journals, which means that all articles are available on the Internet to all users immediately upon publication. However, the opinions and sentiments expressed by the authors of articles published in our journals do not necessarily indicate the endorsement or reflect the views of DigitalCommons@Cedarville, the Centennial Library, or Cedarville University and its employees. The authors are solely responsible for the content of their work. Please address questions to dc@cedarville.edu.

Included in

Musicology Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.