Yodeling (or yodelling, jodeling) is a form of singing that involves singing an extended note which rapidly and repeatedly changes in pitch from the vocal or chest register (or “chest voice”) to the falsetto / head register; making a high-low-high-low sound. This vocal technique is used in many cultures throughout the world.
* 1 History
* 2 Technique
* 3 Examples
* 4 References
In Alpine folk music, it was developed in the Central Alps as a method of communication between alpine mountaineers or between alpine villages, with this non-musical multi-pitched “yelling” later becoming part of the region’s traditional lore and musical expression.
In Persian classical music, singers frequently use tahrir, a yodeling technique that oscillates on neighbor tones.
In Georgian traditional music, yodelling takes the form of krimanchuli technique, and is used as a top part in three/four part polyphony.
In Central Africa, Pygmy singers use yodels within their elaborate polyphonic singing, and the Shona people of Zimbabwe sometimes yodel while playing the mbira. Yodeling is often used in American bluegrass and country music.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word yodel is derived from a German word jodeln (originally Austro-Bavarian language) meaning “to utter the syllable jo”.
All human voices are considered to have at least two distinct vocal registers, called the “head” and “chest” voices, which result from different ways that the tone is produced. Most people can sing tones within a certain range of lower pitch in their chest voices and tones within a certain range of higher pitch in their head voices and spring into their falsetto (an “unsupported” register forcing vocal chords in a higher pitch without any head or chest voice air support) . In untrained or inexperienced singers, a gap between these ranges often exists, although more experienced singers can control their voices at the point where these ranges overlap and can easily switch between them to produce high-quality tones in either. Yodeling is a particular application of this technique, wherein a singer might switch between these registers several times in only a few seconds and at a high volume. Repeated alternation between registers at a singer’s passaggio pitch range produces a very distinctive sound.
For example, in the famous “Yodeling – Oh – EEA – Amigoooo”, the “EEE” is sung in the head voice while all other syllables are in the chest voice.
The best places for Alpine-style yodeling are those with an echo. Ideal natural locations include not only mountain ranges but lakes, rocky gorges or shorelines, and high or open areas with one or more distant rock faces.
Yodeling was a part of country and bluegrass music from its beginnings, most notably in the singing of Jimmie Rodgers, who recorded more than a dozen songs under the title “Blue Yodeling” with an appended number. Other country and western singers yodeling include Elton Britt, Canadian Wilf Carter (Montana Slim), Yodelin’ Slim Clark, Slim Whitman, the Belgian entertainer Bobbejaan Schoepen, Patsy Montana, Douglas B. Green (Ranger Doug), and Wylie Gustafson. Gene Autry was another country-style and Hank Williams yodeler yodelling in the song Lovesick Blues. One of the earliest songs to portray an unusual marriage between yodeling and hard rock music was “Hocus Pocus” by the Dutch band Focus. UK example of this style was the Glasgow-born Karl Denver; the style can be heard in Frank Ifield’s version of Johnny Mercer’s “I Remember You.” Slim Cessna’s Auto Club often features Slim and Jay Munly yodeling.
Kishore Kumar was one of the playback singers from India, famous for his yodeling while, it was Mohammed Rafi who introduced yoddeling as singing India in playback.
Franzl Lang, also known as “Der Jodlerkönig” or the Yodeling King, a professional yodeler from the Alps.
Big Business the 1988 movie starring Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler’s character Sadie Ratliff sings two songs using this technique, one in the beginning while in Jupiter Hollow during a fundraiser so they can send her sister Rose Ratliff to New York City and later on when she is in New York City yodeling while the band plays Music Box Dancer.
Popular singer-songwriter Jewel learned at a young age, and incorporates the musical form into her concert performances yodeling.