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Switzerland Austria yodeling alphorn flag throwing

ABOVE: Follow the sound of yodeling to its source, and there's a good chance that you'll find alphorn players and flag throwing--in Switzerland, if not in Austria.

Yodeling is to the Alps what the Beach Boys are to Southern California, or what hog calling is to the Ozarks. But what exactly is yodeling? Compton's Encylopedia describes the yodel as "a style of singing two alternating tones, a lower one with a full voice and a higher one with a lighter falsetto voice." For a less academic description, we can turn to the classic "knock, knock" joke:

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Little old lady."
"Little old lady who?"
"I didn't know you could yodel!"

Yodeling comes in different styles, from the undulating two-tone cries of Swiss cowherds and goatherds to the soft, mellow choral yodels of Austrian and Bavarian Adventsingen.

Nowadays, Swiss and Austrian yodeling is heard mainly in folklore festivals, tourist restaurants, or sound recordings. The local yokels are too busy making money off tourists to yodel from mountaintops. Someone has to take on the responsibility for keeping outdoor yodeling alive, so why not do it yourself? Learn about the history of yodeling, take an online course, listen to recorded examples, memorize yodeling jokes, and try a "Yodel" drink recipe by using the links on the next two pages. By the time you visit Switzerland or Austria, you'll be ready to impress the natives with your yodeling knowledge and ability.


ABOVE: What better way to start the day than with a shave and a call to the mountains?

Web links:

Yodeling history and background

Yodeling: It's All in the Voice
Switzerland Tourism covers the basics.

Swiss Alpine Music
Learn more about yodeling and Alphorn music, with audio tracks for listening.

Yodeling lessons

Yodel Course
Learn the noble art of yodeling in 10 free lessons, with written music and recorded examples.

Swiss yodeling site

Eidgenössichischer Jodlerverband (EJV)
Switzerland's national yodeling association has an English page that tells how to use the German-language Web site to learn about yodeling festivals and club meetings throughout the country. (Thanks to Benjamin Stocker of for providing this link.)


Yodel ('til you get polyps)
The "world's first animated, interactive singing page" includes a Yodel Jukebox with 12 selections that range from "Swiss" to "Basenji Dog."


The History of Yodeling
"Farmer's daughter" humor meets Swiss folklore.


Fernet Branca, orange juice, and sparkling water make up this recipe from 

Restaurant/folklore show

Restaurant Stadtkeller, Lucerne
Sure, it's a tourist show, but why be a snob? Enjoy alphorns, yodeling, cowbells, and other folk music with lunch or dinner in the vaulted dining room of this historic restaurant.

Related article

In Switzerland, it's okay to blow your own horn--provided it's 10 to 12 feet long and made of spruce with a hardwood mouthpiece.