T/F? There existed a culture or people that would sing instead of speaking

… We see this in films and on stage today, but it used to occur in the streets.

Is this true?

Are you referring to musicals, like Wicked or The Sound of Music?

I have seen people sing short conversations with each other at music camp, so, yes, anecdotally.

Apparently the entire 1950’a high school experience was singing instead if talking. At least that’s what I’ve gotten from being forced to watch Grease about a thousand times by my wife and daughters.

True. They’re called Chinese, they speak a tonal language, and the syllables have different meanings according to their tone.

No. Tone conveys meaning in English, too, just in a different way. A rising pitch at the end of an English-language sentence often indicates a question, for example, where in Mandarin, tone changes the meaning of individual words. But in both languages, there is a distinction between speaking and singing. Just like in English, songs in Mandarin use musical tones to produce melodies that follow the musical patterns distinct from the normal linguistic structures that convey meaning.

According to the book Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes the Pirahã language has tonal elements that are so distinct, there are variants of the language used for communication at a distance and in private that consist entirely of whistling and humming, respectively. (If I recall correctly, the spoken language uses volume and inflection more than tone per se, but these are converted into tonal analogues in the whistle-speech, at least.) There are also the famous “talking drums” of west Africa. Again, however, these are not actually musical languages, but languages that use elements of less importance in English (and hence associated with music rather than normal speech by English speakers) to convey meaning. Actual singing in those languages will still be distinct from speech.

Silbo Gomero

Barbers.
Bullfighters.
Women with unnamed diseases.
Hunchbacked jesters.
Women riding horses.
Chinese queens.
Clowns.
Women leaping to their death.
Dwarfs, gods, giants, dragons, etc.

Several languages use whistling to convey meaning, especially in mountainous regions where long-distance calling is important.
http://www.lemondesiffle.free.fr/presentation_eng/languessifflees.htm

Even in Britain a hill-farmer will often use whistling to communicate with his sheepdog. Is that a language? The dog probably thinks so.

One artificial language that uses a kind of singing to convey meaning is Solresol;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solresol
this language uses musical notes (Sol, re, do, la, mi etc.) to convey meaning, either sung or spoken or sometimes both. The language can also use colour in the same way, although that is a bit more difficult to use in conversation.

Note that using Solresol you can convey two meanings simultaneously, one using the spoken form of the language, one using the singing tones.

Eburacum45:
Going to look into this more, thanks.

jtur88:
Intonation is an intesting topic. Didn’t realize the Chinese integrated it to that extent.

All:
Let me get more specific with my question to help the search: People of this culture would speak their language, but in addition, they would sing it, casually. For instance, walking down the street, one would sing, and the other would sing back. This wouldn’t occur in a particular setting, or on stage, or at a ‘special’ occasion. The singing would be performed in the same language they’d speak in, as well. Hopefully someone here is able to confirm that this was all true.
It may be a Spanish derivative that i had heard about.
This may occur with rap these days, as well.