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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.

History

In Alpine folk music, it was probably developed in the Swiss Alpsmarker and Austrian Alps as a method of communication between mountain peaks, later becoming part of the region's traditional music. In Persian and Azeri 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. 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 Bavarianmarker) meaning "to utter the syllable jo."

Technique

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 then a certain range of higher pitch in their head voices (also called "falsetto"). There is often a gap between these ranges , especially in inexperienced or untrained singers. Experienced singers, who can control their voices to the point where these ranges overlap, 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 but a few seconds, at a high volume. Going back and forth over this "voice break" repeatedly produces a very distinctive type of sound.

For example, in the famous example syllable "Yudl - Ay - WEEE - HOoooo", 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. They include lakes, rocky gorges, anywhere with a distant rock face, the outdoor areas between office buildings, next to a rocky shoreline, or down a long hallway, and best of all, a mountain range.

References

  1. Titze, I.R. (1994). Principles of Voice Production, Prentice Hall, ISBN 978-0137178933.
  • Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World by Bart Plantenga, New York: Routledge, 2004), ISBN 0-415-93990-9 — from Switzerlandmarker to the avant-garde, an exhaustive survey of the field.


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