Little old lady.
Little old lady, who?
Hey! We didn’t know you could yodel!
Yodeling is a unique type of singing that features a fast, repeated change from a low to a high pitch. If you’ve ever heard Tarzan yell, then you have a bit of an idea of what yodeling sounds like.
Your voice has two separate vocal registers: a lower-pitch “chest” voice and a higher-pitch “head” voice. The differences in these vocal registers result from the different ways your body produces sounds.
Singing requires air support from either your lungs (your “chest” voice) or your mouth and throat (your “head” voice). Some people can even sing in a very high pitch without either chest or head air support. We call this singing in falsetto.
For most people, there is a natural gap between the chest voice and the head voice. Yodeling takes advantage of this gap by incorporating quick, repeated switches between the chest and head voices at a high volume.
So how did yodeling get started? Scholars believe that yodeling got started in the Central Alps of Switzerland. They think yodeling was a way for herders to communicate with their flocks or people from different villages to communicate with one another.
Over time, yodeling became a traditional part of Alpine culture, folklore and music. Yodeling made its way into other cultures, too. As early as the 1800s, traveling minstrel shows in England and the United States featured yodeling.
Yodeling didn’t become mainstream in the United States until the 1920s, though. In 1924, country music singer Riley Puckett released “Rock All Our Babies to Sleep,” the first yodeling recording ever.
Then, in 1928, Jimmie Rodgers released “Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas).” His song became a hit that started an immediate national craze for yodeling. Many blues and country musicians credit Jimmie Rodgers as a big influence on their careers.
Yodeling remained popular for many years. By the 1950s, however, yodeling was rarely heard in either blues or country music. Yodeling remains a unique form of singing that many people still enjoy listening to today.