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This article is by Nair. It was posted as a comment on Rafi and Yodeling article.

“yodeling is a type of singing in which high falsetto and low chest notes are rapidly alternated; its production is helped by the enunciation of open and closed vowels on the low and high notes of wide intervals” (Encyclopedia Britannica).


Yodeling conveys nothing, yet conveys something sometimes. Structurally, it is a combination of nonsensical syllables. But when incorporated in a tune, these nonsensical syllables generally create a joyful mood, although sorrow is possible as well. Yodeling is seen mostly in tribal music and is traditionally associated with [Swiss] culture (Hmmm… there might even be a legal claim as a geographical indication!). In India, it is known to have been used in some Manipuri folk songs. According to Swiss yodel experts, all that is needed for an aspiring yodeler is a loud and strong voice. It is also an interesting fact that the master yodelers are wolves!!

Practice and Rules

In yodeling, since the high notes rapidly alternated with low chest notes are “falsettos”,
yodeling does not seem like having any musical rule to support it. Another fact emphasizing the “unruly” nature of yodeling is that none of the musical instruments can produce a yodel in the strict sense of the practice, for musical instruments have systematically controlled configuration. To be precise, musical instruments are designed to produce music.

In carnatic music, a yodel like sound is a clear case of “apa-swara” – a voice slip. It normally happens to untrained singers when they try to sing in high swaras. However, in film songs it sounds good in a few situations, for instance, in jollity or happy-go-lucky mood.

When used in a song, the yodel also should conform to the raga of the song; normally it is so. Now, if yodel as an art (if it can be called so) is removed, it simply means that the singer is asked to sing apa-swara. It is to avoid this situation that yodeling is done separately like Yoodeleeey yoodeleeey or Tiri tiri tee yee turu turu too oo oo that stands separated from the lyrics (exceptions are e.g. Chala Jaata Hoon, where yodel forms part of lyrics). Yet, it will not be acceptable for a disciplined music director/singer to have much of it in his songs, let alone making it a hallmark.

These are probably a few reasons why a disciplinarian in music like Rafi Sahab did not pursue an insignificant act like yodeling and went to explore more scientific layers of music.

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5 Blog Comments to “Yodeling”

  1. Z A Siddiqiui says:


    Even yodeling of Rafi sahab mixup with music which Kishore can’nt perform like this realy perfect

    afi sahab

  2. Musicislife says:

    Rafi Sahab has also done yodelling in some of the songs of late fifties….
    The songs are:
    1)Chale ho kahan kaho(From movie Reporter Raju)
    2) Hello sweety seventeen

    He has done the yodelling with remarkable perfection!! Nothing is really impossible for this maestro whose voice simply defines music.

  3. Sagar says:

    Dear Unknow1,

    Now tats what I call a GOOD JOB ….Bravo well done



  4. unknow1 says:

    Sir Nair thanks for the article and sorry I copied it the paste on KK site.

  5. venkat_brahma says:

    Dear Nair,
    I totally agree with you. In any case, yodeling is not ‘the all and end all’ of singing! Our yodel-king did not possess a no. of qualities (related to both voice and quality/level of rendering) that Rafi saab had.

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