Yodel. When I was a small child, I watched lots of Disney cartoons, many of which starred Goofy and his uncanny ability to yodel. We all remember that, yeah? Goofy, doggy feet lodged in a pair of skiis, perched at the top of a great, snowy mountain, ready to tip down the slope and, ultimately, tumble like a nincompoop. But before the grand display of inevitable catastrophe, Disney's most fun-loving dog (besides Pluto) let out a beautiful, melodic yodel.
So, what exactly is a yodel? Well, yodeling is the act of singing an extended note which fluctuates from chest voice (vocal) to head voice (falsetto) and back again in rapid and repeated succession. Think: high-low-high-low. It derives from the German word jodel, meaning to utter the syllable jo. Bill Monroe, the father of Bluegrass music, showed off his yodeling skills in several of his hits, including one of my favorites, Mule Skinner Blues. Since then, many stars have covered the ode to a mule driver, including the fabulous Dolly Parton.
Bluegrass girl at heart though I am, my most memorable experience with yodeling was at a Jewel concert I attended many years ago at the UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans. Jewel Kilcher prides herself in her talent for the age-old vocal technique.
Pretty cool, huh?
Have you ever heard someone yodel and yodel well?