I meant to post this around the time that my cohost Krys and I did our radio show, but things come up and people get busy and my monthly panic attack was scheduled to happen. You understand. But, better late than never, as they say!
I just felt a collective cringe radiate out from many of you who just read the word. To many, the concept of yodeling calls to mind lederhosen, accordions, and disjunctive grating nonsensical syllables that leave you grinding your teeth in anticipation of its cessation. And perhaps this reputation is not without warrant. After all, though yodeling has been used all around the world for hundreds of years, its birthplace is believed to be the mountains of Scandanavia, emanating out into other Germanic areas. And yodeling is, indeed, characterized by loud, oscillating tones. However, this is not without reason. Though it is now popularly known as a form of music, yodeling was originally intended as a means of communication. As it so happens, the sounds produced by these bizarre vocal gymnastics carry quite well, allowing shepherds guiding their flocks through the vast mountains of Eastern Europe to communicate with each other from far distances. However, yodeling soon became a cultural staple of the area and was soon integrated into a style of music that, over the years, has become popular all over the world, being utilized across all sorts of genres.
Although yodeling is often scoffed at, the vocal mechanisms used to produce it are actually quite difficult to control and require extensive practice. The quintessential yodel is made using two parts of the voice: the upper register (also called falsetto or head voice) and the lower register (also referred to as chest voice). In classical and pop singing, a popular technique is to blend the two registers in order to create a synthesized “mix” voice. However, the whole concept behind yodeling is to have a series of hard breaks between the head and the chest voice, creating that oscillating effect. Being able to quickly move back and forth between head and chest voice without using that mix voice is something that very few musicians can nail down perfectly, and even then it takes quite a lot of practice.
The whole point of this post is to say that even if you can’t appreciate yodeling for its musicality, you can still appreciate it as a skill.
Yodel on, my friends. Have a great weekend!
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