DER Documentary

Swiss Yodelling - 30 Years Later

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by Hugo Zemp
color, 71 min (plus 21 min of extras), 2015
Swiss-German with English subtitles


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Thirty years after the making of A Swiss Yodelling Series, this film continues the investigation of the particular yodel style of the Muotatal, a small valley in the Swiss Pre-Alps. Shot in the early 1980s by ethnomusicologist-filmmaker Hugo Zemp, the earlier films presented the traditional local yodel (called "yootz") sang at work or whilst socializing in restaurants, in contrast to stage presentations of yodel choirs, federated in a national association, and singing under the direction of choir conductors.

Wondering how the situation had evolved in the second decade of the 21th century, he went back and found that Bernhard, the 7-year old boy who had sung with his parents and sisters, was now 37 years old. During his adolescence, like many teenagers, Bernhard was enthusiastic about American Rock and Country music (which he still performs), but when he watched the old films, he got the final urge to go back to the tradition which he had learned during his childhood in the family farmhouse. With five friends from his village, he founded a traditional yootzing group named "Natur Pur", searching to revive casual singing whilst meeting with friends over a drink. This new film shows performances in various situations — including singing with women and teaching at a workshop. Informal conversations between the singers, where humor is not absent, treat serious topics around tradition and change.

In the 20-minute extra, Conversations About Two Records, the performers discuss an old LP published by the filmmaker, and their recent CD, as well as problems of innovation.

“Far from the cliché of the alpenglow, this film touches our hearts with its honest and unadorned approach. The plain and sensitive language is in keeping with the other filmic work of the ethnomusicologist. Yet, this new film is special as it has inserts of images shot 30 years ago on the same theme, and at the same place, thereby showing the development of local yodeling style. Thanks to the initiatives taken by committed individuals and to Zemp's earlier films on Muotatal yodeling, this case study, of an attempt to revive and disseminate a cultural feature, is extremely successful.” — Raymond Ammann, Lucerne School of Music, 2014


Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film - Intangible Cultures, Bristol (UK), 2015
International Music Festival "Alpentöne" (Sounds from the Alps), Altdorf, Switzerland, 2015

Related Resources
Study guide for A Swiss Yodelling Series and Swiss Yodelling - 30 Years Later

Related Films
A Swiss Yodelling Series: Jüüzli of the Muotatal
Polyphony of Ceriana: The Compagnia Sacco
The Song of Harmonics


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