Classical music 
Vocalise dates back to the mid-18th century. Jean-Antoine Bérard's 1755 compilation L'art du chant includes a selection of songs (sans paroles) by composers such as Lully (1632–1687) and Rameau (1683–1764), chosen for their value as exercises in vocal technique. Accompanying the exercises were instructions on mastering the technical challenges they posed. By the 19th century vocalises were commonly composed specifically for pedagogical purposes rather than being adapted from existing songs.
A related tradition of vocalise sprang up in the 19th century, with wordless technical etudes set to piano accompaniment, following the fashion of the time of setting even the most mechanical of études to piano accompaniment with the thought that this would inspire the performer to execute the music more artistically.
In the early 20th century, many orchestral scores incorporated wordless choruses (especially female choruses) for coloristic effects, and such choruses may be found in works by Debussy, Ravel, Vaughan Williams, Holst, and in many film scores.
Notable examples 
- Gabriel Fauré: Vocalise-étude (1906)
- Igor Stravinsky: Pastorale for soprano (1907)
- Sergei Rachmaninoff: Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14, for soprano (1912)
- Nikolai Medtner: Sonata-Vocalise, Op. 41, No. 1 (1922) and Suite Vocalise, Op. 41, No. 2 (1927)
- Heitor Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5: first movement (1938)
- Reinhold Glière: Concerto for Coloratura Soprano and Orchestra, Op. 82 (1943)
- Kate Bush: "Night Scented Stock", from the album Never for Ever (1980).
- Vopli Vidopliassova: "Legenda o lyubvi", from the album Kraina Mriy (1997)
Jazz and world music 
Vocalese (with the -ese suffix) refers to a type of jazz singing in which new words are created and sung to existing instrumental improvisations. Both The Swingle Singers and Jon Hendricks famously combined both these techniques. This style is pre-composed (i.e. not improvised); therefore, it is not to be confused with scat singing, which is wordless improvisation.
In Indian classical music, the tradition of aakaar is used as a vocal exercise before singing, and also to a certain extent adds to the singing and the melody.
In March 2010, a vocalise titled "I am very glad, because I'm finally returning home" (Я очень рад, ведь я, наконец, возвращаюсь домой in Cyrillic), sung by Eduard Khil became an internet meme.