Posts Tagged ‘falsetto’


Do they yodel in the USA ?: Faun Fables

3 August 2008

It’s not only in country music that you can find yodel. Other styles like rock, jazz, bues or soul include sometimes yodels in the songs. So what about the Faun Fables ? Singer Dawn McCarthy has the ability to yodel but she also experiences a lot with her voice, trying strange things, sometimes beyond reason or feasibility. Here is what her site says about her: “Dawn McCarthy is a writer, singer and theater artist whose work is a sea of gorgeous elemental nitty gritty; haunting melodies, breath, stomping, and natural theatricality led by the voice, rooted in the physical body. It is a crossroads where ancient ballad, art song, physical theater and rock music meet. Her lyrics speak to people of all ages about things like rugged housekeeping, street kids, growing old, sleepwalking and exiled travelers returning home.

And here is what she says about yodeling in an interview by Bart Plantenga: “My first inspiration was a woman ‘Liisa,’ from the old record ‘Liisa Yodels.’ … Certainly all the yodellers that’ve inspired me are of the swiss style – fast, melodic and doll-like, somehow. Can I also put in a vote here for pygmy yodelling? Which is quite a different character – almost entirely spiritual and waif sounding. Regarding other music, I am influenced by things that sound remote – growing out of some tree in a wood. Well, OK, that’s figuratively speaking – but I do love a variety of what seems to be obscure music. The melodies used in Norwegian folk music really rang true in me – they have no “scales” per se as traditional western music favors. I am biased toward any good vocal music; over the top singers, wild screamers, exacting polished singers that sound like a reed instrument…anything that guts or charms me… Brigitte Fontaine, Iva Bittova, Dimi Mint Abba, Demis Roussos, Eva Demarczek, Robin Williamson, a flamenco singer named Lole…

In Ode to rejection, the yodel sounds melancholic, eerie, mysterious but is also really melodious at the same time. Bliss is a traditional Swiss yodel song, but a strange one. Wait for a post about Erika Stucky and you’ll hear other things in the style. Mouse song is quite funny, with spoken word at the beginning and is also based on a traditional Swiss song. Honey baby blues is a traditional song that was played by Clarence Ashley or Doc Watson. It is in Appalachian old time style, with no yodel but falsetto.

Faun Fables:

Ode to rejection


Honey baby blues (all from Early Song, recorded in 1999)

Mouse song (from Family Album, recorded in 2003)

Link 1: myspace

Link 2: Drag City


Can yodel save the world ?: “Indian love call”

11 May 2008

Do yo remember the end of the Tim Burton movie Mars Attacks! ? When you see that the martians can’t stand the falsetto/yodel of the favorite song of the grandmother ? This song is Indian love call by Slim Whitman (1924- ). He also sings I’m casting my lasso towards the sky (with yodel) in the movie. He had a very laid-back, romantic singing style, a kind of fusion of country and crooner vocal style.

Slim Whitman (born Otis Dewey Whitman Jr) grew up in a Christian family, poor but loving. His father enjoyed listening to the radio, and the young Slim was exposed to the music of Gene Autry and Jimmie Rodgers, the Sons of the Pioneers and Wilf Carter. Like many others, it was Jimmie Rodgers who caused Slim to experiment with yodelling and he found out at a very early age that he could do it !

He had learned to play guitar in the Navy during the war, and was also a semi-professional baseball player. He began a musical career after the war, signed a record deal in 1949 with RCA and then in 1952 with the Imperial label, whose first major succes came with Slim Whitman: he could yodel and that was enough to sell discs ! His first Top 10 country hit was Love song of the waterfall with poweful falsetto phrase that stops just before a full yodel (the song was used in another movie with aliens: Close Encounters of the Third Kind !). But his major succes came in July 1952 with Indian love call, a song from a 1920s operetta, Rose Marie, written by Rudolph Friml with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein and Otto Harbach. It sold a million copies and was his first release in the UK. From the same session, China doll has a superb falsetto also.

From a subsequent session, there is By the waters of the Minnetonka, that begins with a great falsetto, a bit like in Indian love call. This song is very difficult to sing but Slim Whitman did it to perfection.

And to end a real yodel: There’s a rainbow in every teardrop, one of his own compositions (probably from 1954), with an extended yodel at the end of the song.

– – May the yodel be with you – –

Slim Whitman:

Indian love call

I’m casting my lasso toward the sky

Love song of the waterfall

China doll

By the waters of the Minnetonka

There’s a rainbow in every teardrop