Autumn 2013 / Life on Campus

Hart House’s choir members only use one instrument: their voices

Onoscatopoeia 2012-2013 members

The Hart House Jazz Choir – better known as Onoscatopoeia – has been performing scat singing since the group’s inception in 1998. The technique is used in jazz music when a vocalist substitutes an instrumental solo or a song’s words with improvised, wordless syllables. Think of Stevie Wonder’s “Shoo-Be-Doo-Be- Doo-Da-Day,” or vocalist Ella Fitzgerald’s famous scat rendition of “One Note Samba.”

Hart House’s 24 choir members pride themselves in using only one instrument: their voices. What may sound like a trumpet or violin can be a soprano busting out melodic harmonies. “The actual term ‘onomatopoeia’ means the imitation of sound,” says Kurt Sampson, the choir’s former music director. “Aside from scatting, our group can also imitate instrumental sounds – so the name ‘Onoscatopoeia’ seemed to fit well.”

Watch a video of Onoscatopoeia performing “Ain’t No Sunshine.”

Add a Comment

required, use real name
required, Not for Publication
optional, eg: BSc 2008

Next story in this issue: »
Previous story in this issue: «