Posts Tagged ‘Switzerland’


They yodel in Switzerland !: Aristide Padygros

26 October 2008

Even if I didn’t post a lot of Swiss yodels, I’m sure you’ve heard them before. They mostly come from the German speaking part of the country, the French speaking part being underrepresented in yodel terms. But they exist, sometimes in strange and crazy forms. This week, I would like to speak about Aristide Padygros. Be ready for big moustaches and long hair !

The band was founded in 1970 by Olivier Cabanel in Geneva with Swiss and French members. They were part of the folk revival movement in Europe and made a name in the folk circuit with their not so serious albums, their sense of improvisation and party. The repertoire was inspired by the folk musics of different countries like France, Belgium, Switzerland and American styles like cajun or Canadian music. In the seventies, they made lots of concerts, playing at Paris famous Olympia, meeting French humorist and stand-up comedian Coluche, making a tv-movie for Swiss television in the Monty Python vein (L’irrésistible ascension des Padygros) and recorded four LP’s. In 1978, Olivier Cabanel left the group and began a solo career, while being very active in the defense of the environment. An other member of the group, Alain Monney, works now for the Swiss television, writes books and creates graphic art.

The two songs presented here are from the album Aristide Padygros, released in 1976 (original rip from the vinyl, with some cracks). The first one, Kosmick Zeuerli is a 34 seconds long yodel sounding a bit like a Gregorian song or as the title says it, like a cosmic thing. The second one, Der Landema tanst reveals the skill of a good yodeler, but I don’t know who he is. It is played in a Swiss traditional instrumental style, but as seen through the folk revival.

Kosmick Zeuerli

Der Landema tanst


Do they yodel in Switzerland ?: Christine Lauterburg

12 October 2008

I haven’t written a lot of posts about yodel in Switzerland, the country where it all began. And this post won’t be about classic yodel or folkloric yodel but about modern and quite experimental yodels. Some singers have decided to push yodel to its frontiers, to innovate, to provoke even: Erika Stucky, Hubert von Goisern, Stimmhorn… and Christine Lauterburg. She caused quite a stir in the nineties with her album Echo der Zeit mixing ambient sounds, electronic beats and yodels. When you listen to it now, it sounds a bit dated, but it was a time of groups like Deep Forrest or Enigma who were mixing world music with synth programming. And Lauterburg’s album is a milestone in Swiss pop music !

Christine Lauterburg was born in 1956 in the region of Bern, Switzerland. As a child, she soon wanted to become a singer. But she first became an actress and played in theater and film in the 1980’s. Once she was 30 years old, she decided to reorientate her career and followed song lessons, where she learned to yodel. She didn’t want to do it in the traditional way but wanted to touch a different public, a younger one. Echo der Zeit was her first album and it went number 9 in the Swiss charts in 1994. The album was produced by Cyrill Schläpfer (the director of the Ur Musig documentary) and by Pascal de Sapio (who is more in a hip hop thing). She looks a bit like of a Nina Hagen from the mountains, a postindustrial Heidi but her music is more techno than punk. Since then, she made other albums, always a bit experimental but less techno, as you can hear on her site.

Following are some songs from Echo der Zeit, hits and some others, randomly picked, because almost all the songs of the album contain yodels:

Tanz Tanz ! (here is a other version on youtube)



Rot uf Grau (remix)

And here is the more traditional side, with songs in duo with Res Margot playing Büchel, a short trumpet-shaped Alphorn in the first one and Schwyzerörgeli in the second one.

Gruss aus Adelboden



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


Do they yodel at the Eurovision ? (II): Switzerland 1977

22 May 2008

It’s obvious that you will find yodelling in the Swiss entries for the Eurovision. In 1977, the Pepe Lienhard Band sang Swiss lady, composed by Peter Reber from the Swiss trio Peter, Sue & Marc. The group members at that time were Pepe Lienhard, Pino Gasparini (who’d represent the country also in 1985), Bill von Arx, Georges Walther, Mostafa Kafa’i Azimi (at the alphorn !) and Christian von Hoffmann (I you want to know what Pepe Lienhard is doing now, go here). Even if they only finished at the 6th place, it had a lot of succes in Europe.

Pepe Lienhard Band – Swiss lady

For the Eurovision, I’ll post youtube videos… so you can appreciate the nice choreographies and beautiful costumes !


Do they yodel in Switzerland ?: Jüüzli

13 April 2008

And now, some traditional yodel, from where it all began in Switzerland (even if that’s not so true, but the whole story is for later). There are different types of yodels, depending on the region. I’ll begin with a very simple one, the Jüüzli from Muotatal in central Switzerland (in the Schwyz canton). It was used to call the cows in the mountains or for milking, and for other activities of the everyday life.

Chueraiheli by Erasmus Betschart was recorded in 1979 by Hugo Zemp in the Wassenberg Alpine pasture. It is a piece to call the cows for milking. Hugo Zemp did a lot of scientific research about the subject and made some documentaries (references here, here, here and here). Four Jüüzli was recorded during milking in a cowshed.

Erasmus Betschart – Chueraiheli

Erasmus Betschart – Four Jüüzli