Knock-knock.

Who’s there?

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.

 

90 Join the Discussion

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    • Hello, Smile22! Thanks so much for stopping by today’s Wonder of the Day®! Learning to yodel takes LOTS of practice…we’ve been practicing all morning here in Wonderopolis! We know you can learn to yodel, too, if you just stick with it and try your best! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing today’s Wonder with your family, Ella! We REALLY like hearing that! We’re glad you enjoyed the video! :-)

    • Hi there, “I Love Wondering!” We are really flattered that you want to name your magazine Wonderopolis, because it shows us that you really love learning here! The name “Wonderopolis” is a super special kind of word that has protection from the United States government and is called a “registered trademark.” That’s what that little “®” symbol means beside the Wonderopolis logo at the top of this page. That special protection says that people can’t use the word “Wonderopolis” for their own companies, products, and (unfortunately) magazines. We’re super sorry, but we know you can come up with another AWESOME name for your magazine…we believe in you! :-)

    • Wouldn’t it be cool if BOTH your parents could yodel, Steven? We have been practicing our yodeling here in Wonderopolis all morning…we are getting better at it! :-)

    • We think it’s fun to watch people (like those in the video and links for today’s Wonder) yodel, too, Johnathan! It sounds so cool! :-)

    • That’s a really WONDERful coincidence that today’s video was from the Sound of Music, Taylor! Thanks for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • We think that’s AWESOME, Jordan! We like hearing that you and your classmates are enjoying the Sound of Music video today (in Wonderopolis AND in music class)! :-)

    • Hi, Tiarra! We really have WONDERed why people yodel, and a few other Wonder Friends have WONDERed it, too! That’s why today’s Wonder of the Day® is about yodeling! Thanks for leaving us this AWESOME comment-o-lay-hee-hoo! :-)

    • That’s a GREAT question, Joshua! Puppeteers are really skilled entertainers, aren’t they? We’re not sure how they make the eyes on the puppets roll, or even how they make the eyelids close! Thanks for giving us a SUPER idea for a future Wonder of the Day®!

  1. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Our class loved the singing in the video. Some of us have never heard yodeling before. We tried it out by singing LITTLE OLD LADY WHO!!!!!!!! The puppets in the movie were neat.
    Have a great day!
    Kids in Room 305

    • We think it’s SO GREAT that you guys tried yodeling, Mrs. Kennedy and Room 305 Kids! You guys are our heroes today! We’ve been getting better at it ourselves, so we know practice makes WONDERful! Thanks so much for visiting Wonderopolis today and leaving us this AWESOME comment! :-)

    • We think that’s a really great guess, Eric! We’ll all have to visit Wonderopolis again tomorrow to see if Uncle Sam is someone we’ll be learning about! :-)

  2. I think the photo was sort of offensive to my Hispanic background. I think it should be a photo of something else. I am 100% Hispanic and I am just sharing my opinion.

    • Thanks for letting us know what you thought about the photo for today’s Wonder, Sheboygan! We appreciate your comment very much and are super sorry you were offended by the photo. The photo is actually of people in Switzerland, specifically Portuguese singers at the International Festival of Folklore and Dance in Evolene, Switzerland. They are people celebrating their heritage by dancing and singing (including yodeling). :-)

  3. I have always wanted to know how to yodel, but no matter how hard I try, I just can’t! :) I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about Uncle Sam.

    • We know you can do it if you keep trying, Audrey…we believe in you! It takes lots of practice (we know, because we have been practicing a lot and we can only yodel a little bit so far)! Thanks so much for sharing what you think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about! :-)

  4. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Cool wonder! Yodeling is a type of singing that people that live on the mountains (and other people) do. I think tomorrow’s wondering is about the Stars.
    XOXOXOXOXO,
    Paige ;)

  5. Dear Wonderoplis,
    Me and my sister really liked the video. My little sister thought is was really funny. Ever since my teacher, Mrs.Kennedy, showed us your website, I was really obsessed with your website. I wonder what the wonder of the day will be tomorrow? That’s a tough one. I love this website, it is the best one EVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ll have to see what the sound of music movie is like. I think I have the tape for the VCR. I wonder what it is like to go in space or go to another planet? Thank you for saying that our class is heroes today. You are my HEROES!!!!
    :)

  6. I think this wonder was not great… not many I know like to yodel… what I did like was how you explained it. I’m in Mrs. Barthelems class and have Mr. P. as my library teacher.

  7. Hi, I think yodeling is really cool! I didn’t know a lot about it, but now I do! WONDEROPOLIS ROCKS! Peace ’till tomorrow, (I try to comment everyday).

    • We know you try to comment every day, Johannah, and we really appreciate it! In fact, we think it ROCKS! We’re glad you learned some new facts about yodeling by exploring today’s Wonder! :-)

    • Hi, Heather! We know LOTS of Wonder Friends who agree with you (including everyone here in Wonderopolis)! The video for today’s Wonder was extra AWESOME! :-)

  8. I thought that video was cool! Sometimes I see people yodeling. I also never know that was called yodel. By the way, I love watching your videos.

    • We’re so happy to hear that you like watching the Wonder videos, Joseph! Thanks for letting us know that and THANKS for being a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

    • Hello again, Devan! We wanted to create a place where learners of all ages could visit, share and grow while exploring a new, different Wonder of the Day® each day! That’s how we came up with Wonderopolis, and we’re SUPER GLAD you and all of our other awesome Wonder Friends like learning here! :-)

    • Please keep visiting Wonderopolis, Devan! We have a Wonder of the Day® coming up in the near future we think you might really enjoy (wink, wink)! :-)

    • We’re happy to hear from you again, “I Love Wondering!” There are LOTS of people who work behind the scenes here in Wonderopolis, making sure each Wonder of the Day® is the best it can be! Everyone’s always on the go around here, too, so we’re not quite sure it would be possible to get pictures! We have a GREAT idea, though! You could take “screen shots” on the computer of some of your favorite Wonders and use those as pictures for your newspaper when you tell other people how much fun learning in Wonderopolis is! If you’re not sure how to take “screen shots,” you can ask a grown-up to help you do that! :-)

  9. Hey, wonderers! Have you seen the video that’s called how do dinosaurs get there name? That is probably my favorite video. I am 9 years old!

    • Thanks, Mike! We think you are awesome, too! Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis today and leaving us this GREAT comment! :-)

    • That’s GREAT, “I Love Wondering!” We hope you have FUN on your field trip and that you get to WONDER a lot! :-)

  10. People yodel to understand animals and people, too. Knock knock. Who’s there? Little old lady. Little old lady who? ooh ooh!

  11. Cowboys know how to Yodel. I liked the video from the movie “The Sound of Music.” We watched an old video by Jimmie Rodgers too.

    • We hope you’ll be inspired to give yodeling a try, Djuana! It’s super fun to learn how! Thanks for checking out this Wonder today! :-)

  12. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Hi! I love your post!

    I have recently been in the play The Sound of Music. I was Marta von Trapp, and I have done lots of yodeling! Does that count? If so, that means I can yodel! (Lay-dee-odl-lay-dee-odl-lay-hee-hoo! :lol: )

    Sincerely,
    Taylor

    • We think it’s so COOL that you have been in a play AND that you can yodel, Taylor! Thanks so much for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • We think that’s really neat, Clayton! We like learning about our Wonder Friends, and are glad you shared a little about yourself with everyone in Wonderopolis today! THANK YOU-de-lay-hee-hoo! :-)

    • We like your yodeling, Claire! Thanks so much for hanging out in Wonderopolis today and leaving us this COOL comment! :-)

    • Thanks for letting us know you liked the video for this Wonder, Isabelle! We think that’s GREAT-a-lay-hee-hoo! :-)

    • Thanks for letting us know you liked the video for this Wonder of the Day® about yodeling, Barbie! We appreciate hearing that and hope you have an AMAZING day! :-)

  13. I think that when I read this, it made me think of when you go to a place where you listen to a play that has someone yodeling to you on a scene area that they have for you. This is so awesome because you now get to know what it is really about . I would be that person if I had the talent to do that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Hi Liberty, we LOVE your awesome connection to this Wonder! Thanks for telling us all about it! We bet you’ve got LOTS of talents to share… what’s your favorite thing to do? :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • How do you yodel?
  • What are the two types of vocal registers?
  • Who started the yodeling craze in the United States?

Wonder Gallery

Switzerland_shutterstock_82852186Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Ready to yodel? Learning to yodel with a friend or family member can be a lot of fun, so be sure to grab a partner to learn alongside you.

First, you’ll need to find your chest voice and your falsetto voice and learn to switch between the two. Can you sing low notes from your chest? Now try to sing really high from the top of your throat.

Turn on the radio and try to sing songs in both your chest voice and your high falsetto voice. Practice switching between the two.

When you think you have both voices down pat, try singing a simple phrase as a yodel. Take the joke that kicked off today’s Wonder as an example.

Can you sing “little old lady who?” as a yodel? The entire phrase should be in your low, chest voice except for the “dee” sound in “lady,” which should be in your high falsetto voice.

Keep practicing, because practice makes perfect. If you want some inspiration, check out these fun yodeling videos:

 

Still Wondering

If you’re going to yodel, there’s no need to do it alone! Learn how to sing with a group of friends or family with ArtsEdge’s Singing in an Ensemblelesson.

 

Wonder Categories/Tags

Categories

Tags

falsetto  register  voice  yodel 

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