Tag Archives: Ululation

Ewiha Chant (Zalghouta): Folklore Song/Gesture

Text: Ewiha Chant (Zalghouta)

Context: AH’s relationship to this piece stems from his Lebanese culture which allows him to have various experiences as he heard this song/gesture within his childhood and early adult life. His relationship relates to his connection with his aunt as she is the specific woman in his family that is in charge of leading the performance. He typically hears this chant at weddings during the dinner portion of the event or after the ceremony. Within his family, they typically use this song/gesture as a Lebanese tradition as they wish good luck to the newly wed couple. Within the tradition, self-expression is evident as yells, screams, yodeling and ululations are present. AH interprets this tradition as a good luck charm and as a sign of felicitations as his family believes that if this song/gesture is not performed, it is considered bad luck on the newly wed couple.

Analysis: The overall cultural value within this song/gesture is based on the act of ululating (zalghouta) which is practiced all over the Middle East and in some parts of Africa. Given that this act stems from Lebanese tradition, it holds cultural values within women considering this song/gesture is typically done by women given they are the only ones that can perform an ululation which is a high-pitched tongue trill. I see this gesture/song as an overall expression of happiness, joy, and celebration. Considering that I have not experienced this tradition being performed, I believe that this song/gesture during family events is a momentous moment that is filled with positive affirmations as two families conjoin together where luck, love, and unity is emitted within the atmosphere.  

Chaldean Ululation

Title: Chaldean Ululation

Ethnicity: Chaldean

Age: 21

Situation (Location, ambience, gathering of people?): The interviewee and I are sitting in a coffee shop in San Diego, taking a break from our daily activities to have some coffee midday and talk about some of his and his families traditions.

Piece of Folklore:

Interviewee- “So within my family, and really most Chaldean families, we have this practice of, I think it’s called ululation in English, not sure about that. And so what we do is we make this high pitched noise, and then we use our tongues to make it stutter, and it sounds really cool.”

Interviewer- “When do you make that sound?”

Interviewee- “Special occasions mostly. We don’t go around doing it at Wal-Marts and stuff! I think that would seriously throw most people off and probably even scare some other people. It can get really loud. So once example is we always do them at weddings. Always. And it is usually the women that do it, and they love doing it, especially if they have been drinking a bit. They go, and they get the wife, and they go off and do the thing, and everyone cheers them on. Really it’s more of letting emotion and happiness out, it’s something that we use to show that we are really emotional about something.”


This practice is unique to Middle Eastern countries and peoples, and it is something that has carried on into the United States when those families immigrated here. This cultural practice has not ceased, and if anything, has grown even more predominant in these families because it reminds them who they are, where they are from, and how they should live their lives, according to their culture.

Tags: Chaldean, Ululation, Ceremony