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"Dudeln" and "Schrammelmusik"

The best things about Vienna seem to come from somewhere else. For instance, the ‘Wiener Schnitzel’ actually comes from Milan, and the same goes for such authentically Viennese forms of music as “Dudeln” (the local name for yodelling) and "Schrammelmusik”, which have also “migrated” here.

 © Wiener Volksliedwerk
Yodelling and Vienna. For some, that's a contradiction - after all, for most people yodellers belong in the Alps. But Vienna is different when it comes to this too. That's why yodelling is known as "Dudeln" in Vienna. Complicated? Not really. After all, the yodel has long had its established place in the Vienna songbook. Even during the 17th century, numbers of people from Styria moved to the city, particularly to Ottakring and Hernals, and their rural treasury of popular songs found its way into the songs of Vienna. The definitive breakthrough for yodelling came in the 1820s, when choral groups from Tirol brought the longing for the romance of the Alps and nature to the respectable Viennese.

"‘Dudeln' means singing a changing melody with large intervals in such a way that, with the exception of the middle part, you only ever hear the chest register and head register. Instead of the text there are syllables which have no meaning in themselves," is the definition offered by Johann Gabriel Seidl in 1837. The key difference from the yodel is that the latter is performed vocally, whereas the Viennese ‘Dudler' is accompanied by instruments, such as the clarinet, guitar or accordion. In many instances, it is also embedded in a lyrical Viennese song and is therefore ideally performed in an enclosed space, particularly in bars, unlike the Alpine yodel, which is normally sung out in the open. After ‘Dudeln' had practically been considered a song-form of the past and after the most renowned Viennese ‘Dudeln' singer, Trude Mally, died in 2009, today the noble art of ‘Dudeln' singing is being reinvigorated by singers such as Agnes Palmisano, Tini Kainrath and Doris Windhager.

Another typical Viennese form of music, "Schrammelmusik", likewise originates from "outsiders". Josef and Johann Schrammel were musicians from the Waldviertel region who enjoyed great success with their small ensemble at the end of the 19th century in Viennese inns and bars. Around 200 Viennese songs are attributed to the Schrammel brothers. The characteristic of Schrammelmusik is its gently "whining" voice, which is however given a lively instrumental accompaniment, in a chanson-like style. The original Schrammelquartet played on violin, guitar, double bass and clarinet, but in later times musicians also adopted the accordion. In recent years Schrammelmusik and the Viennese song have been enjoying a renaissance. For example, the Neuwirth Extremschrammeln combine the old heritage of songs with blues, jazz and rock, and the singer/songwriter Ernst Molden, the "Leonard Cohen of Vienna" (to quote "Falter" magazine), combines electric blues with the elegiac poetry of Ottakring. It's a living vibe - to be experienced every year at "Wean hean", the somewhat alternative Viennese song festival, or at "Wien im Rosenstolz".

Traditions in Austria

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