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25 May 2018, 13:15
Ever tried to yodel the ‘Lonely Goat Herd’ song from The Sound of Music, and actually sounded more like a dying goat? Here are the ins-and-outs of what exactly yodelling is, and how it’s done.
The English word ‘yodel’ comes from the German ‘jodeln’, which means ‘to utter the syllable jo’ (pronounced ‘yo’).
The concept of yodelling has been around for a while, but during the 1800s it became a rural Alpine tradition. And it became a regular feature in Swiss, Austrian and Southern German folk songs.
Here’s Maria (A.K.A. Julie Andrews) with her iconic ‘Lonely Goat Herd’ yodelling in The Sound of Music:
Technically speaking, yodelling is a six-note jump from your chest voice to your head voice, with a voice break in between.
The vocal technique makes the most of the natural gap between most people’s chest and head voices by jumping between the two quickly and loudly.
Well, you can practise it firstly by yodelling the phrase: ‘Yodel – Ay – EEE – Oooo’.
The best way to go about it is to sing ‘Yodel – Ay’ in your chest voice, then switch into a high falsetto tone on ‘EEE’, and back to the low pitched chest voice on ‘Oooo’.
A simpler exercise is to try some yodelling on A, E and O vowels, then use them to find and perfect the crack between your two voices.
You can also try yodelling on the phrase ‘Little Old Lady Who’, using the same concept as ‘Yodel – Ay – EEE – Oooo’:
To take your yodelling to the next level, you need to relax.
Exercises for this include flaring your nostrils (yep, really), massaging your mouth and jaw to warm them up, and doing some deep, relaxing breathing. The more relaxed you are, the faster and more impressive your yodels will become.
And if you’re still struggling, try doing the above exercises in a rocky gorge – really! The echo will make your high Es pop.
Then one day, maybe you’ll be able to yodel like this guy: