Here’s a joke you can share with your buddies:
Little old lady.
Little old lady, who?
Hey! We didn’t know you could yodel!
What exactly is yodeling? It’s a unique style of singing that involves quickly and repeatedly changing from a low pitch to a high pitch. If you’ve ever heard Tarzan’s yell, then you have an idea of what yodeling sounds like.
Your voice has two different vocal registers: a lower-pitched “chest” voice and a higher-pitched “head” voice. The difference between the two is due to the different ways your body produces sounds.
Singing requires air support either from your lungs (chest voice) or from your mouth and throat (head voice). Some people can even sing in a very high pitch without using either chest or head air support. We call this singing in falsetto.
For most people, there is a natural gap between the chest voice and the head voice. Yodeling takes advantage of this gap by incorporating quick, repeated switches between the chest and head voices at a high volume.
So how did yodeling originate? Many believe it started in the Central Alps of Switzerland. There, herders used yodeling as a means of communication. Herders would yodel to their flocks or to people from different villages. Over time, yodeling became a traditional part of Alpine culture, folklore, and music.
However, yodeling existed in many other cultures around the same time, and perhaps even before it was used by Swiss herders. Mountainous regions of Africa, Scandinavia, and Australia had their own yodelers.
Yodeling gained popularity in the United States during the 1920s. In 1924, country music singer Riley Puckett yodeled on his record “Rock All Our Babies to Sleep.”
Then, in 1928, Jimmie Rodgers released “Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas).” His song became a hit and sparked a national craze for yodeling. Many blues and country musicians credit Jimmie Rodgers as a major influence on their careers.
Yodeling remained popular for many years. However, by the 1950s, it was rarely heard in either blues or country music. Nevertheless, yodeling remains a unique form of singing that many people still enjoy listening to today.
Give It a Try
Are you ready to give yodeling a shot? Find a friend or family member to help you explore the following activities:
Learning the Art of Yodeling
Discovering the joys of yodeling can be an exciting journey. The first step is to familiarize yourself with your chest voice and falsetto voice and learn how to transition between the two. Can you produce low notes using your chest voice? Now, attempt singing in a high falsetto voice from the top of your throat. Tune in to the radio and try singing songs using both your chest and falsetto voices. Practice switching between them effortlessly. Once you feel confident with both voices, challenge yourself to yodel a simple phrase. Take the example of the joke presented in today’s Wonder: “little old lady who?” Can you yodel this phrase? The entire phrase should be sung in your low chest voice, except for the “dee” sound in “lady,” which should be sung in your high falsetto voice. Dedicate time to practice, as practice leads to perfection!
If you’re seeking inspiration, watch this enjoyable yodeling video: “Cowboy’s Sweetheart” by 9-Year-Old Yodeler. Do you think you could pursue a career as a professional yodeler? Share your thoughts on why or why not.
Why do you believe yodeling has lost popularity over time? Can you imagine turning on the radio and hearing yodeling in your favorite Top 40 songs? Why not give it a try? Select one or two currently popular songs and attempt to sing along while incorporating your own yodeling at certain intervals. What do you think? Can you enhance today’s hits with the addition of yodeling?
- https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/where-did-yodeling-originate-and-more-questions-from-our-readers-23993/ (accessed 17 Mar. 2022)
- https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Yodeling (accessed 17 Mar. 2022)
- https://www.britannica.com/art/yodel (accessed 17 Mar. 2022)
- https://www.neatorama.com/2010/05/21/a-brief-and-incomplete-history-of-yodeling/ (accessed 17 Mar. 2022)
- https://www.britannica.com/dictionary (accessed 17 Mar. 2022)
1. What is yodeling?
Yodeling is a unique vocal technique that involves rapid changes in pitch between the chest voice and the falsetto voice. It is often characterized by a high-pitched and melodic sound that is commonly associated with Swiss and Austrian folk music.
2. Where did yodeling originate?
Yodeling originated in the Alpine regions of Switzerland and Austria, where it was used as a form of communication between mountain peaks. It later became a popular form of expression in folk music and has since spread to other parts of the world.
3. How do you learn to yodel?
Learning to yodel requires practice and training. It is recommended to start by listening to recordings of experienced yodelers to get a feel for the style and technique. Then, begin by practicing basic yodeling exercises that involve transitioning between the chest voice and the falsetto voice. With time and dedication, you can develop your own unique yodeling style.
4. Are there different styles of yodeling?
Yes, there are different styles of yodeling. The Swiss yodeling style, known as “jodeln,” is characterized by rapid and rhythmic changes in pitch. The Austrian yodeling style, on the other hand, focuses more on melodic and sustained yodeling. Other countries, such as the United States and Canada, have also developed their own unique styles of yodeling.
5. Can anyone learn to yodel?
Yes, anyone can learn to yodel with practice and dedication. While some individuals may have a natural ability to yodel, it is a skill that can be developed by anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. It is important to remember that yodeling is not about having a perfect voice, but rather about expressing emotion and enjoying the unique vocal technique.
6. Is yodeling still popular today?
Yodeling continues to be popular in certain regions, especially in Switzerland and Austria, where it is deeply rooted in the culture and traditions. Additionally, yodeling has gained popularity in other parts of the world through its inclusion in various genres of music, such as country and folk. While it may not be as mainstream as other forms of music, yodeling still has a dedicated following and continues to captivate audiences with its distinctive sound.