Spoken Word

Speech used as song. During the 1960s and 1970s in particular, this technique was often used in film musicals to allow popular actors to star in them despite a total or near-total lack of singing ability. It is also used in theatre when production schedules simply do not allow time for proper rehearsal of choral numbers.


  • Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady and Doctor Dolittle. He dubbed the technique "Sing-Speak".
  • Gregorian chant (in some cases)
  • Lorne Greene in Bonanza performs the theme's lyrics this way.
  • John DiMaggio, voicing Gorilla Grodd in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Mayhem of the Music Meister!", uses this technique.
  • Just about everyone in the film version of Man of La Mancha, which is fortunate since none of the stars were even tolerable singers.
  • Johnny Cash
  • Robert Preston as Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man.
  • C.W. McCall
  • Used on The Muppet Show by any guest star who couldn't actually sing.
  • The musical Camelot does this quite a bit.
  • "All I Wanna Do Is Play Cards" by Corb Lund.
  • R.E.M. did this a couple of times, with "Belong" and "Blue".

Alternative Title(s): Plainsong