How to Ululate Well

Shakira Ululating at the Super Bowl in 2020

According to those venerable people who make dictionaries in Oxford, England, ululation means to ‘howl or wail as an expression of strong emotion, typically grief’. Apparently, it’s done at weddings, funerals and half-time skits at the Super Bowl (hi, Shakira).

All that said – it ain’t an easy thing to do. Leastwise, not for me.

I guess it’s all to do with my upbringing. I just wasn’t raised to make that kind of sound. Not under any circumstances. Heck, even my habit of singing all the time wasn’t seen as being entirely cool. And everybody used to sing. Apart from my Uncle Alan, who was more of a sitting-watching-TV kind of a guy. Oh, and my dad, who’s a firm believer in working as an expression of his inner being. Hmm. Actually, when I think about it – none of the generation up from me did any singing. And none of them ululated either.

If I’d have grown up ululating, then I could probably do it now. As it is, I feel kinda embarrassed to try. Even if I could get my vocal gear to oscillate properly, I still feel very odd doing it. Okay let me try now and then I’ll tell you how it feels.


Actually, that wasn’t too difficult. If must be something that comes with practice. Today is the first day that I’ve ever tried ululating, and this is the fourth time I’ve tried it today. Impressed? Well, you should be.

Here’s the thing, though – I didn’t feel any kind of emotion when I ululated just then. And, as far as I’m aware, the people that ululate do it as an expression of grief (when they do it at a funeral) or joy (when they do it at a wedding) but me, doing this in a cupboard under the stairs, whilst looking forward to dinner, doesn’t count as either of these.

Maybe I ought to wait for a funeral to unleash my vocal performance. Let’s have a think – I wonder who’s going to pop their clogs first. Urgh, no – that feels wrong. Not that idea of me ululating at a funeral, but the thought of planning-out who’s going to die. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m superstitious or something, but I’m a little afraid of naming someone and then having them drop dead within the week. Okay, let’s not go there then.

So, what about weddings? I can just imagine me standing up in the church, just after the groom has kissed the bride for the very first time (’cause the first time happens at weddings, right?), and letting rip with my newfound skill of ululation.


I mean, what would people think!

I reckon, therefore, that I have to do one of the following to be able to get good at ululation:

  • get to know people from the kind of culture that ululate a lot
  • throw off my inhibitions and just go for it
  • only ululate in the cupboard under the stairs (or in the shower)
  • practice the kind of ululation that only mice can hear.

Other than that, I’m a bit stuck really as to how to ululate well. Sure, I’ve become four times as good as I was before just by practicing a bit, but I don’t feel like I’m going to be breaking any Olympic records in ululation any time soon. Maybe I just have to accept that I’m not an ululating kind of a guy and move on.

Then again – never say never. Who knows – I might just meet someone tomorrow who changes my life. Possibly maybe.

Well, anyway – let’s see.

And so, that’s all I got for you on the subject of how to ululate well. Hope it helps.

Any-which-way-around, tune in next time for another fascinating post on how to do stuff well and (perhaps) change your life in the process. And, erm, thanks for reading. Bye!


2 thoughts on “How to Ululate Well

  1. Pingback: How do Stuff Well – an A to Z | Robert C Day

  2. Pingback: How to do Stuff Well – an A to Z | Robert C Day

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