For example, if one were to sing la or al (or other 1 consonant and 1 syllable combinations) to replace every morpheme of the words in a song. Is there a name for that idea, or is the closest thing solmization(solfège)?

Basically, the idea solmization(solfège), but without thinking of fixed do / movable do.

  • 4
    I like to feel that I'm being incredibly witty when I refer to "la la la"-ing as "moveable la." Nov 1, 2023 at 1:13
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    But it's not solfege any more when only one sound is used! The whole idea of solfege is that each pitch receives a different sound. Used to do this with choirs, often using baa. Trouble was they ended up sounding sheepish...
    – Tim
    Nov 1, 2023 at 9:17
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    . . . E I E I O.
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 1, 2023 at 14:25

2 Answers 2


This is similar to a vocalise (the OED defines this as "a passage or piece of vocal music consisting of a succession of vowel sounds" or as specifically a vocal exercise consisting of such sounds; this can also be used as a verb), but I'm not aware of a formal term for the precise situation you describe.


The generic term is "nonsense syllables", which refers to any combination of syllables that conform to the rules of the song's language but do not themselves form words.

More specifically, "la la la" and the like are called non-lexical vocables. This is not specific to the use of solfege syllables, for which there is no special term.

For more see Wikipedia: Nonsense syllables, Non-lexical vocables.

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