Some posts contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more information!
Are you enjoying watching the World Cup? It’s been fun to feel the excitement, watch the games, and hear about the different customs from countries across the world. I hope you are following our World Cup For Kids Project. You can follow us on Instagram and Twitter via the hashtag: #mkbworldcup.
Switzerland plays against France today and it’s supposed to be a close match! Switzerland seems to be a favorite team; I saw a poll yesterday that asked who people were rooting for and the Swiss took 20%, second only to those who didn’t have a team they were rooting for. Let’s hope they win and get a winning streak going!
Music is a big part of our life and our family,which is why I thought it would be fun to explore the music of Switzerland.
I have learned from my research that there aren’t really any national traditions there because they have such a diverse culture. There are four languages spoken and many regional traditions, but overall Switzerland prides itself on its diversity.
The Swiss play standard instruments in their music: “Schwyzerörgeli” (accordion), the violin, bass violin, clarinet and, in certain regions, the dulcimer or Trümpi (Jew’s harp). But they have some unique ones that I want to explore!
First up, the Alphorn.
The Alphorn was first used by shepherds to call in the cows from the pastures and to the barn for milking time. Smart cows, huh? I guess that shows how little I know about cows. I didn’t take them to be trainable like that!
It was also used as a call to prayer, but it’s main function was to communicate with other shepherds and with villagers down in the valleys (since the shepherds were up in the hills normally).
Unfortunately for this long horn, its use became nonexistent in the 1800’s and people soon forgot about it. However, it was revived by Niklaus von Mülinen, who began to repair them and train players. Soon, it was known for its beauty as a musical instrument.
I think it looks really cool too! Wouldn’t it be fun to have one of these in your backyard to call your kids to dinner? Or, even better, to have a certain call you use when they are in trouble. Kinda like a duh, duh, duh, dummmmm….. to serenade them as they walk back inside to receive their punishment.
I think it’s cool that they have been able to produce different tones so that it can be played as a group. I love that this instrument has stayed the same, despite modern technology. There are a lot of fun facts about the Alphorn that I haven’t covered.
Second, we can’t talk about Switzerland without mentioning it’s most popular form of music-Yodeling.
Yodeling was first used as a form of singing without words that used differences in pitch to communicate in mostly mountainous regions. It was used by shepherds to communicate from one hill to another to bring in the cows. They didn’t have cell phones back then, so how else could they communicate that far? If you were to ask a cow, missing a milking or being late is not a good thing!
It wasn’t until the 19th century that the Yodel developed into a song. It now has three or four part harmonies and is usually accompanied by an accordion. Each year, yodeling choirs gather and perform at festivals singing about home, nature, the mountains, and freedom.
For fun, have a yodeling contest in your family. My kids thought it was hilarious! All you need to do is find a fun song, country works best, and yodel instead of sing the words. As inspiration, here’s a talented 12 year old from America’s Got Talent who stole the show with her fun yodel! It’s the Americanized version of yodeling, of course.