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Yodelling draws crowds at Melbourne festival -

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Yodelling draws crowds at Melbourne festival

Reporter: Geoff Hutchison

KERRY O'BRIEN: It's a vocal discipline which went unrecognised at last night's ARIA awards and is
unlikely to be performed by the winner of Australian Idol, but the art of yodelling has proved one
of the big drawcards at the Melbourne International Arts Festival.

The yodelling being celebrated is not the chirpy von Trapp version made famous in The Sound of
Music, nor is it the sad warble of The Lonesome Cowboy.

Instead, it's church music - born in the Swiss Alps and performed by a village choir hoping to take
the call of the mountains to a wider world.

Geoff Hutchison reports.

FRITZ VOEGELI: Yodelling in the Swiss mountains was mainly used as a form of communication.

And it depends - the way - how they sing it.

It might be joy, or it might be grief.

GEOFF HUTCHISON: It's thought the Swiss mastered the art of making themselves heard hundreds of
years ago - cupping their hands, striking the larynx and launching a sweet, wordless melody across
mountain and valley.

And what began as a kind of, "Hello, is there anybody there?"

Soon turned into a song and, over time, it evolved further into a celebration of voice.

ROBYN ARCHER, MELBOURNE FESTIVAL DIRECTOR: So, when I announced that there would be a yodelling
mass, everyone just screamed laughing, but I had to keep assuring people and say, "You have no idea
how beautiful this sound is."

GEOFF HUTCHISON: For the members of the Jodlerklub am Albis it's been quite a journey, from the
church of their home village to St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne where tonight they'll perform a
yodel mass.

There's not a professional singer among them.

They're village folk, and some have never travelled beyond the Alps, but that hands-in-pocket
casualness belies an extraordinary commitment to their art and culture.

ROBYN ARCHER: They're very happy to sing all day which they've been doing since they arrived.

You can't stop them.

It's a different attitude entirely.

They sing really from the heart.

They sing because they love it, it's part of their life and tradition, it's intertwined with their
lives and the place they come from and therefore you get something that's very pure and very

GEOFF HUTCHISON: You have become a symbol of this international festival.

What does that feel like?

FRITZ VOEGELI, MANAGER: For us town people, it's really something, you know.

We never expected such an audience.

ROBYN ARCHER: People hear the choir and you can see people going, "Oh, I had no idea."

And it really is something - I think it's something physical.

GEOFF HUTCHISON: What do you think members of your choir will get from this experience, what will
they take home with them?

FRITZ VOEGELI: I'm sure they will take home a lot of remembrances.

They will remember this for their whole life, I'm sure.

GEOFF HUTCHISON: But the Jodlerklub isn't just here to perform.

Its members are here to teach, to enhance the reputation of yodelling, damaged by lonesome cowboys
and Hollywood.

Too polite to say it publicly, you can tell they'd have preferred it if those Sound of Music
kiddies had kept their von Trapps shut.

Today, they're hoping to turn this room full of warblers and garglers into the real thing.

SHIRLEY BILLING: Well, it makes you laugh, because it sounds so incredible and you go, "How on
earth am I going to make that sound?"

GEOFF HUTCHISON: Have you made that sound yet?

SHIRLEY BILLING: I've made some sort of sound.

I come from a dairy farm and I think the cows would be heading towards the milking shed by now.

GEOFF HUTCHISON: Find that you mime the first two minutes and then let yourself go a little bit?

MADGE FLETCHER: Totally miming the first couple of minutes.

It's like, "Where am I, where is my voice?"

And your mouth feels really odd.

GEOFF HUTCHISON: But two hours on, rather incredibly it seems, those odd mouths are making sweet
music, echoes from far off mountains in Melbourne.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Where are the Topp Twins now?

Geoff Hutchinson with that report.