Wise, Tim

Yodel Species: A Typology of Falsetto Effects in Popular Music Vocal Styles
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6 comments

  1. Hey Tim, Great article!

    One thing though: in par. 26, you talk about the loft voice, suggesting that there are only few examples of its use in popular music. I will have to strongly disagree on this, because creaky voice (another term for it) is widely use. Just an example: Sia uses it all the time. The problem is more about how it is used. In any case, we should discuss this sometime.

    Take care,
    sErge

  2. your article has been very helpful in the writing of book 2 on yodeling, YODEL IN HIFI. but may i make a comment on the disappearance of yodel effects in classical music. this is not entirely true. check out “Maria” by Cecilia Bartoli [who learned to yodel for this homage] but also the opera “In the Alps” by Richard Ayres which he was commissioned to do for soprano Barbara Hannigan, a fan of yodeling. New-classical [for lack of a better name] theo loevendie, himself a fan of yodeling has wirtten an operina with plenty of yodeling. It features Kristina Fuchs, no stranger to yodeling herself. new classical composer toby Twining also has several works that include yodeling. there is also of course mary schneider… i’d like to continue this offline if possible. perhaps ask a few questions.

  3. Bart, thank you for this – it was your article “Will there be any Yodeling in Heaven” that got me started! Thanks for that!

  4. Hi Tim

    a fascinating essay about a form that is so frequently misunderstood and undervalued. I have compiled yodel albums for record companies and count several yodellers as friends – including Mary Schneider, probably the best yodeller in the English speaking world today. She will love this and I will bring it to her attention.

    Your discussion of “smoothness” raised in my mind the style of Elton Britt. Whilst you cited his version of “She Taught me To Yodel”, this was an early, basic “B” side for him in which he made little attempt to show what he could do. For sophistication in country yodelling I would draw your attention to his “Maybe I’ll Cry Over You”. The song is sad and – in accordance with your essay – he sings it with great melancholy and adds a yodel at the end that “cries”. However the smoothness of the notes, the accuracy of the breaks and the range of the last yodel adds another dimension of the meaning of “smooth” when applied to the yodel.

    Slim Whitman’s “Roll On Silvery Moon” is a wonderful early Whitman example of smoothness in your “Spiecies 2” yodel. Have you heard his version of the old country hit “The Keeper Of The Key”? This was much later and his frequent breaks are definitely of your species 2 but could almost fit within species 1!! And, so smooth!!

    Finally, I have put together several CDs of yodelling in the past, as well as CDs by artistes who yodel. For many examples of vintage country yodelling see http://www.jasmine-records.co.uk. You could also try:

    – Yodelling Crazy – EMI CDP 7986562

    – The Greatest Yodelling Album Of All Time (2CD) – Rajon RJBOX 51

    Very enjoyable piece of work – easy to read and thought stimulating – thank you

    Paul Hazell (Freelance Country Music Writer and Broadcaster)
    Presenter “Paul Hazell’s World Of Country” on http://www.uckfieldfm.co.uk

    1. Hi Paul,
      Thank you for your comments. I know your work and own the CDs you mention! Thank you for making that music available to us.
      Yes, I accept that my idea of “smooth” as elaborated here is somewhat problematic. As you point out, a number of fine yodellers sing and yodel with a lovely, creamy voice, which does seem at odds with the idea of “rough” as presented here. I develop the rough/smooth dichotomy more fully (and I hope acceptably) in a forthcoming book (titled Yodeling and Meaning in American Music). Briefly, my comparison of rough and smooth focuses not so much on the actual sonic qualities of the voice, but on the perception (by a purported mainstream) of the kinds of personae yodeling associates with. So in contrast to the audiences for high art and mainstream popular music we get yodelling strongly associated with cowboys, hoboes, hillbillies, and poor blacks (generally speaking). The distinction I try to draw out thus concerns social classes and relative prestige in a broader American context. So while both Elton Britt and Slim Whitman had pitch-perfect, clarion-like voices, the kinds of personae they represented and the audiences they attracted were nevertheless quite at odds with the more fashionable, self-consciously sophisticated audiences for other types of music where yodelling was excluded. I’ll let you know when the book is out; in it I attempt to map this distinction more systematically.
      Thanks for your interest!
      Tim

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