All Together Now: It’s Singalongability

An academic has published a study about what makes us join in with certain pieces of music – what gives them, to use her brand-new term, singalongability.

Now Wordability loves the fact that English allows us to put -ability at the end of another word and create something intelligible. Frankly without this, Wordability wouldn’t be, well, it wouldn’t be Wordability. It is the English language’s great wordability which allows it.

So Wordability salutes Dr Alisun Pawley of York University, who worked with Dr Daniel Musselsiefen of Goldsmith’s University, to decide what makes a song singalongable.

They identified four key factors: longer phrases, a greater number of pitches in the chorus hook, male vocalists and higher male voices with a noticeable vocal effort. Their research put Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’ top of the singalongability list.

But what makes singalongability such a great word is that it has an almost onomatopoeic quality. Its multi-syllable nature, and jaunty rhythm when you say it, make it the kind of word you could actually join in with.

Don’t believe me? Well then, I give you the type of music which is surely the most singalongable in the world – nursery rhymes. So easy to sing along with, even a two-year-old can do it.

Now, try replacing the words of Pop Goes the Weasel, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Humpty Dumpty with just one word – singalongability.

Go on, try it. You’ll soon get what I mean.

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One response to “All Together Now: It’s Singalongability

  1. I think “singalongability” can probably be sung to any tune which is 2/4 or 4/4 time. I can’t make it fit with anything which is 3/4 time, i.e. waltz time. All the nursery rhymes I can think of seem to be in 2/4 time.

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