Lilting is a form of traditional singing common in the Goidelic speaking areas of Ireland and Scotland. It goes under many names, and is sometimes referred to as mouth music, diddling, jigging, chin music or cheek music, puirt à beul or canntaireachd in Scottish Gaelic, or portaireacht bhéil (port a'bhéil, "mouth-singing") in Irish. It in some ways resembles scat singing.


Lilting often accompanied dancing.[1] Features such as rhythm and tone dominate in lilting. The lyrics thus are often meaningless or nonsensical. Because of this, translations from Goidelic languages often do not exist.


The origins of lilting are unclear. It might have resulted in part from the unavailability of instruments, whether because they were seen as too expensive or were banned. However, peasant music in other Indo-European cultures was subject to similar constraints, and lilting did not develop.

Notable lilters

See also


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