While having lunch in Bern, Switzerland, last June, we expected to enjoy the cobblestone streets and 15th-century terraced buildings near the café. We expected to savor the food—we had ordered an Alpine specialty called käseschnitte, which is bread sprinkled with white wine, covered with ham, smothered with cheese, and baked in the oven. Yum. What we never anticipated was a yodeling serenade while sipping our beer.
Four enthusiastic and friendly yodelers from the next table treated us to an unexpected demonstration. Two happy couples were on their way to the town of Interlaken to enjoy the 28th annual Swiss Yodeling Festival.
Yodeling was originally a form of communication between Alpine residents in neighboring villages. Yodelers used their voices in an extended note, dropping from a falsetto voice to a chest register. This high-low kind of vocalizing was a melodious and joyous sound that eventually became appreciated as music in addition to a method of communication. Yodeling as communication sounded impossible to me, until on our hikes, I realized that yodelers had the help of echoes. Plus, some of the villages are on cliffs less than 500 meters (1,600 ft) above the neighboring burg.
Although today yodeling is appreciated more as an art form, I guess we are still yodeling for each other. These days, however, we use social media instead of singsong voices. Never mind the method—we humans just love to communicate.