Archive for September, 2008


Do puppets yodel ?: the kiddie show connection

28 September 2008

You can find yodel everywhere, even in kiddie shows ! Puppets do yodel sometimes ! So here is a not so serious post.

My first find is in Sesame Street. It’s not a puppet who yodels but it’s in the show. Y is for yell, yellow and yodel, or how to learn the alphabet to the children. With kids who try to yodel and a really serious yodeler.

The Muppet Show had yodels too:

Season Three, Episode 51: Gonzo yodels Rimsky-Korsakov while riding on a motorized pogo-stick. Not really the best yodel I’ve heard but a funny one !

Or maybe this one where the Muppets yodel in chorus with Kristy Lee, an American Idol finalist (note to myself: find the yodelers in that kind of contest):

And to end this post, a great one from Kabouter Plop, the Belgian gnome who made it on WFMU with a fake phonetic translation of one of his songs. There’s no clip for the yodel song, you’ll find the mp3 after the clip. For the lyrics in dutch, you can go here. Be warned: it’s eurobeat at its best, with yodel !

Kabouter Plop – Kabouter jodel

I presume there’s a lot more puppet yodels out there, in odd languages. If you have any ideas, leave me a note !


Do they yodel in the USA ? Arthur Miles (with some excursions in throat singing)

21 September 2008

Thanks to Diane for the guest post. I wasn’t in the mood (and didn’t have time) to write last week because I was busy nursing my boyfriend who was victim of a hit-and-run car accident. He’s ok now, even if he can’t move a lot around, his foot being in a cast. I think it’s a coincidence but this week’s songs are really sad though they will make you travel on the trails of the Texas cowboys and the herders of the steppes of Tuva.

Arthur Miles, a Texan cowboy, created in the 1920s a style of overtone singing, similar to the sygyt style of the steppes of Central Asia (see below). He recorded Lonely cowboy (part I and II) in Dallas around 1927 for Victor. He is the only artist I heard until now who can yodel and throat sing in the same song ! Both songs are really gloomy, and so are the yodels and throat singing. There’s not a lot of info about him but on this page, you’ll find a very interesting interview of Pat Conte (from the Secret Museum of Mankind cd’s) speaking about Arthur Miles. There’s a modern interpretation of the song by stigandr aka big bro Clifton on youtube, with the lyrics of part II.

Throat singing is a technique “in which the singer manipulates the harmonic resonances created as air travels from the lungs, past the vocal folds, and out the lips to produce a melody” (definition from wikipedia). It is mostly known from the singers of Mongolia or Tuva but it is used in all parts of the world like Sardinia, South Africa or by the Inuit people.

There were other artists who did something like overtone singing: Richard Burnett from Kentucky is one of them and you can hear it a little bit in Ladies on the Steamboat, where he plays banjo and Leonard Rutherford plays fiddle in old time style. It sounds more like “dingdongdingding” but some sources (listen to Pat Conte) say he could do the throat singing, he just never recorded it at the time. The song was issued in 1927 on Columbia. You can see them on the first picture.

To end this post, I’ll travel to the other side of the world with one of my favourite Tuva songs, Igor’s solo by Chirgilchin (on the second picture), on their Collectible album. Igor Koshkendey has mastered six different styles of throat singing, is inventing some more himself and has won the Grand Prix of the International Throat Singing Competition in 1998, 2000, and 2002. This song is very sad, just with the bayan (russian accordeon) and you feel transported far far away in the steppe when listening to it.

Arthur Miles – Lonely cowboy (Part I and Part II) (on When I Was A Cowboy, Vol. 1, Yazoo Records)

Burnett & Rutherford – Ladies on the Steamboat (on Kentucky Mountain Music, Yazoo Records or on Document Records)

Chirgilchin – Igor’s solo


Do they yodel in Africa (or is it Japan) ?: Geinoh Yamashirogumi

14 September 2008

by this week’s guest: Diane

In 1982, the collective Geinoh Yamashirogumi released an album of african a cappela songs. One of these include a distinctive call and response women choir that reminds me of the Pygmy tribes and contains seminal yodel techniques.

From Geinoh Yamashirogumi’s album: Africa Genjoh (The African Vision Singing)



Do they yodel in Greece ? (or is it Hawaii ?): Kostas Bezos’s Hawaiian Orchestra

7 September 2008

(Hawaiian pavillion at Seattle Worlds Fair, 1962)

In the beginning of the 20th century, the influence of Hawaiian music (songs and steel guitar) was far reaching: every part of the globe had his Hawaiian groups performing the romantic island songs. As seen in many cases, it is with a world fair that the craze spread: the Panama-Pacific Exposition held in San Francisco in 1915 presented songs and dances, ukulele and steel guitar at the Hawaiian pavilion. But it was not only in the USA that you could hear these island sounds…

Kostas Bezos (1905-1943) was born in a village near Corinth in Greece and was a guitarist who not only played rebetika songs, the typical Greek style of the era, but also steel guitar in Hawaiian style. He recorded songs between the 1930’s and the 1940’s for Columbia and His Master’s Voice. The rebetika songs were released under the pseudonym of A. Kostis or K. Kostis. Apparently he recorded more Hawaiian songs but it is easier to find his Greek songs on cd. Maybe some record collectors have 78rpm recordings.

Pame sti Honoloulou was recorded in Athens, Greece, in the early 30s by Bezo’s Hawaiian Guitar Ensemble.  The song, a comic / romantic one, is about the lure of the islands and translate as Let’s go to Honolulu. Bezos sings, and yodels !

Another song is Ta Aspra Poulia Sta Vouna (The White Birds in the Mountains), recorded in Athens in 1936, no yodel here but a funny intro, animal sounds and surf like guitar. I’ve read that another name of the group could be Aspra Poulia (White Birds) Hawaiian Orchestra but maybe it’s just the title of the song.

As an example of his rebetika style, here are two more songs: Toubeliki – toubeliki and Troumba, recorded in the early 1930s in New York, from this collection.

Info and songs were found in the notes of this wonderful cd, Slidin’ on the Frets. The Hawaiian Steel Guitar Phenomenon, edited by Yazoo and in another great cd, Steeling Round the World, Hawaiian Style, edited by Harlequin.

Bezo’s Hawaiian Guitar Ensemble – Pame sti Honoloulou

Kostas Bezos – Ta Aspra Poulia Sta Vouna

A. Kostis – Toubeliki – toubeliki

A. Kostis – Troumba

(I found no image of Kostas Bezos… nor of the Hawaiian pavilion at the Panama-Pacific Exposition, but I like the tiki style of the pavilion at the Seattle Worlds Fair in 1962)