jodler: when there are no words

This week I learned of a new (to me) song form: the jodler. A friend of mine in my department, who is from Bavaria, brought out her book of jodler when we students wished to collectively express admiration, respect, and love to a professor. But it’s hard to put those things adequately into words.  My friend describes the experience of singing jodler as a communal event when words would not suffice. The voices create a resonance which bonds the group, who keeps singing until what the community needs to feel has been expressed.

The Grove Dictionary classifies the jodler as an Alpine song form, whose primary concern is “acoustic communication: signals between people, between people and animals, or between people and gods.” The kind of jodler we sang last night was a signal between people. To communicate something that sounds one-dimensional if an individual says the few words that are available in a spoken language. Perhaps my experience with a sign language has opened my mind to other language possibilities than spoken words. Singing a jodler was a way to experience community, reverence, and joy without words.

This is the one we sang last night (even though it was an Adventjodler).

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