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How To Yodel-ai-eeee-ooo!

Mar 5, 2008
Have you ever wondered how Jewel can yodel like she does? With such an adorable voice, her yodeling is so well balanced. When listening to her sing you just know she is performing live yodeling and not simply miming to the melody.

So what are the secrets of yodeling?

Yodeling is a form of singing which involves an extended note swiftly and repetitively altering its pitch from the vocal chord usually coming from the chest area. This singing method originates from several cultures the world over.

African, Persian and Swiss performers each have their own version of yodeling. In Central Africa, the pygmy singers use a detailed polyphonic singing, which is another form of yodeling. In classical Persian music, the singers accompany yodeling with tahrir or an instrument which fluctuates the yodeling tones. For those who lived in the Swiss Alps, yodeling was how they communicated over the mountain peaks and it did not take long to become the traditional style music of the area.

As a rule, human voices have two individual vocal registers known as the head and chest voices, the lower pitch coming from the chest. The pitch is relatively higher when coming from the head.

Whether experienced or inexperienced singing the ranges between the head and the chest are difficult to attain. Because of the vocal training received, experienced singers control their voice and are able to overlap the ranges, changing from the high quality of the head to the low quality of the chest and this is how the sound of yodeling is produced by repeatedly going backwards and forwards over the head and chest chords.

Try saying this: "Yodlayeeeeooo" with the "Eeee" coming from the head voice and the rest from the chest voice whilst alternating the high and low pitches. There you are - you are yodeling!

Yodeling is very much a form of contemporary music. Singers such as the Indigo Girls, Sarah McLachlan and Nelly Furtado can all be heard yodeling and in musical productions some of the characters yodel for a short time in their scenes.

If you want to yodel and do it properly, remember practice makes perfect, following consultation with a vocal coach. With the right vocals anybody can learn the proper way to yodel and as long as you know where to draw the note from, either the head or the chest you are well on your way to becoming a good yodeler.
About the Author
Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of MusicianHome.com, a site that provides information and articles for musicians at all stages of their development.
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