Friday, August 22, 2008

How To Yodel

An extremely small picture of some people in Switzerland (probably), yodelling, yesterday (ish).

How to Yodel


Yodelling is defined as a sung musical phrase where the tone or register rapidly and constantly alternates between a lower chest tone and a higher pitched falsetto. In other words you gotta sing like a slightly gay Toblerone worker with his gonads stuck in an Alpenhorn.

Yodelling is popular wherever there are mountains, or forests, or in any terrain where visual communication is difficult; the wobbly high pitch of the yodel carries across distances that would defeat normal voice registers. Yodelling can thus be found in places like New Guinea, Mexico, China, Norway, Eskimo Canada, and your bath when the water’s too hot. Even the pygmies of Africa are prone. But the true home of yodelling is the Alps - Switzerland, Austria, South Germany - where yodelling was devised by cowherds as a way of calling home their cattle in the mist.

OK. Lock the doors, warn the neighbours, give some Valium to the cat. Take a deep breath and sing ‘Hodl-oh-ooh-dee’. Then take a breath and then say ‘Hodl-ay-ee-dee’. Now sing the two phrases again, and again, but each time when you sing ‘ooh’ and ‘ee’ try and make a leap into a much higher voice tone. As if you are hiccuping. And remember: at the end of each phrase, finish off with a glottal stop - that’s that unvoiced ‘t’ sound Cockneys make when they say gotta, or bottle. Clear? OK: all you need now is some leather shorts, a cuckoo clock, and a penchant for banking the unclaimed assets of Holocaust victims.

Why not? OK yodelling makes you look and sound like a git, but it can also be highly lucrative. Country singers Gene Autry, Jimmy Rogers (the ‘Yodelling Cowboy’), and Hank Williams all used the Alpine technique on their hit records. Present day yodelmeister Kerry Christenson is one of the biggest artistes in central Europe. And New Zealand-born twin lesbian yodellers the Topp Twins are amongst the biggest selling New Zealand-born twin lesbian yodellers in the world. Yodel-odel-odel-etc etc etc....

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