AskDefine | Define yodle

The Collaborative Dictionary

Yodel \Yo"del\, Yodle \Yo"dle\, v. t. & i. [imp. & p. p. Yodeled, Yodled; p. pr. & vb. n. Yodeling, Yodling.] [G. jodeln.] To sing in a manner common among the Swiss and Tyrolese mountaineers, by suddenly changing from the head voice, or falsetto, to the chest voice, and the contrary; to warble. [1913 Webster] Yodel
Yodel \Yo"del\, Yodle \Yo"dle\, n. A song sung by yodeling, as by the Swiss mountaineers. [1913 Webster]
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 head register (or "head voice"), 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 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.


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 relatively lower pitch in their chest voices, and then a certain range of relatively higher pitch in their head voices. 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. Yodelling 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 - EEE - Ooooo", the "EEE" is sung in the head voice, while all other syllables are in the chest voice.



"Appenzeller" and "Bravour Jodler" are yodeling standards which are performed by many different singers.
The best places for Alpine-style yodelling are those with an echo. They include lakes, rocky gorges, anywhere with a distant rock face, the outdoor areas between office buildings, in a canoe next to a rocky shoreline, or down a long hallway, and best of all, a mountain range.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word yodel is derived from a German word jodeln (originally Bavarian) meaning "to utter the syllable jo".


  • 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 Switzerland to the avant-garde, an exhaustive survey of the field.
yodle in German: Jodler
yodle in Spanish: Yodel
yodle in French: Yodel
yodle in Hebrew: יודל
yodle in Italian: Yodel
yodle in Dutch: Jodelen
yodle in Japanese: ヨーデル
yodle in Norwegian: Hjaling
yodle in Polish: Jodłowanie
yodle in Russian: Йодль
yodle in Finnish: Jodlaus
yodle in Swedish: Joddling
yodle in Ukrainian: Йодль
yodle in Chinese: 约德尔唱法
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