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.


In Alpine folk music, it was probably developed in the Swiss Alps and Austrian Alps as a method of communication between mountain peaks, later becoming part of the region’s traditional music. 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[1]. 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 Bavarian) 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[2]. 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 (also called “falsetto“). 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 “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. 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. Ideal artificial locations may include long hallways and outdoor areas between office buildings, depending on a given location’s noise regulations.

Courtesy of Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yodeling.