The Rough Guide to Yodel

The Rough Guide to Yodel
The Rough Guide to Yodel

San Francisco (California), USA – The latest release in the Rough Guide series is The Rough Guide to Yodel (GNET1174CD). It’s a sad coincidence that the album comes out right after the death of one of the best American yodlers, Don Walser [Don Walser, Country Music Yodler Dies at 72].

From its spiritual homes in the Alps and rural USA,
yodel’s influence can be found in any country – from Hawaii to Cameroon – and in any type of music – from techno to Bollywood.

The Rough Guide to Yodel
aims to squash the clichés and invites the listeners to open their ears to the joy of yodel.

Easily dismissed as a fun vocal gimmick,  The Rough Guide to Yodel brings the surprising truth about the yodel. As compiler and proud champion of the underdog, Bart Plantenga, states in his sleeve notes for the album, ‘Everything you’ve heard about yodeling is wrong.’

Demonstrated most clearly by this Rough Guide is the extent to which yodeling has become a worldwide phenomenon. The distinctive break between bass and falsetto that forms the yodel has provided a way of communicating over large distances, perhaps for as long as 10,000 years appearing independently in Switzerland, Africa, Russia, Mongolia and the far East before later spreading to the New World via West African Slaves and
German Settlers.

The North American school of yodeling introduces the album with Cathy Fink’s ‘Yodeling Lesson’, a charming summary of the basics. This is followed by Janet McBride’s ‘A Yodeling Addiction’, an account of her lifelong passion for the technique after she expressed her first spontaneous yodel in 1942. Other US contributions come later on the album from the likes of Washington truck driver, Mike Johnson; yodel legend, Kenny Roberts; and Gillian Welch, modern country’s finest purveyor of poignant hillbilly.

From Switzerland there is Christine Lauterburg’s cut’n’paste/avante garde ‘Erika’s Alptraum’. Her techno-yodel Echo der Zeit CD went top ten in Switzerland in 1994. This is followed by the unadorned simplicity of Jodel Duo Rosy and Paul Hirschi (the only artist present who could claim to be a genuine hunter, farmer and herder as well
as a yodeler). More surprising contributions come in the form of the Ho’opi’i Brothers’ ‘Hawaiian Cowboy’. The brothers grew up on Maui and used the contours of the countryside as they learned their singing style.

The Eastern limits of the yodeling globe brings Kishore Kumar, a legendary vocal performer, actor, writer and director in Bollywood cinema. Avant garde vocalist Sainkho Namtchylak transforms the great vocal traditions of Tuva while Africa’s yodelers are represented by musicologist-composer Francis Bebey and Baka Beyond, both tracks featuring the Pygmy yodel style indigenous to Cameroon.

This album contains a data track that includes an interview with the compiler Bart Plantenga, novelist, DJ and journalist, Plantenga is the author of Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World . He is currently working on a second volume, ‘Yodel In Hi-Fi’, as well as a yodel film

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Author: World Music Central News Department

World music news from the editors at World Music Central