Dopers that watch a lot of musicals answer this one please

Is there a name for “sing talking”, you know like in a musical play when someone is singing but they are not quite singing instead they are talking out the words but with some harmony but it’s not full blown singing or straight out talking.
I heard someone say a name for this a long time ago but I can’t remember what it was called.

I’ve seen it called “talking on pitch,” specifically with reference to what Rex Harrison did in “My Fair Lady,” etc.

I’ve heard it called “talk-singing” much more often than “sing-talking”.


Do you mean “patter songs”? (think “Trouble in River City”)?

This seemed like a “Cafe Society” thread, so I moved it.

When a whole musical (like an opera) is sung, as opposed to songs between spoken dialogue, the sung dialogue is called “recitative”, as in opera where it contrasts to the arias.

Consulting the back of my worn copy of ‘My Fair Lady’, it says, ‘Mr Loewe…scatter[s] patter songs, ballads, and cheerful choruses around in a lavish fashion’ – patter songs presumably referring to Rex Harrison’s.

Don’t have an answer, but that sort of thing drives me nuts. I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face does have a melody to it; at least the version we sang in college chorus did.

Mr. Hooper always did this on Sesame Street.

Bruce Springsteen has made a whole career out of it.

Not saying I don’t like him. I’m a big fan of his work up to Born in the USA, but it drives me crazy sometimes, why doesn’t he ever just sing?!


Back in my kindergarten days we always called this Sprechgesang.

I went to the Lotte Lenya South Kindergarten, y’know.

Sprechgesang - (“speech song”) or Sprechstimme (“speech voice”) is a technique of vocal production halfway between singing and speaking.

In musical notation it is frequently indicated by putting a small ‘X’ through the note - well that’s how Schoenberg used to do it, anyway. At Weltscherz Industrial High, that is.



Sprechstimme is a different, and very specific, vocal technique. Probably the difference is best summed up in that parlando involves a greater emphasis on speech-like sounds, while sprechstimme is closer to pitch-oriented sound production. Mind you, nobody ever agrees of what sprechstimme really should sound like anyway :wink: