Thursday, 18 September 2014

Traditional Swiss Music and Dancing

Julie Andrews got it right – the hills of Switzerland really are alive with the sound of music. This picturesque country has a wealth of musical traditions, from yodelling to blowing the Alphorn. After completing their household moves to Switzerland, many expats are keen to get to know the culture of their new home country, and experiencing the range of traditional music and dance is all part of this.

Hamiltons Removals organises shipping to Switzerland from the UK on a weekly basis, for both households and businesses. Here is our look at some of the country's music for you to discover following your removals to Europe.

Hamiltons Removals – Click here to see how Hamiltons can arrange your home removals.

Yodelling: The calls of cowherds to one another across the Swiss mountains gradually developed into yodelling, a singing style with many changes in pitch which is known worldwide. This type of music stems from ancient times, but was only really developed in the 19th century, with Alpine choirs being set up to perform yodel songs.

Some part-songs in this form have no words at all, while others do have lyrics, often celebrating the beauty of the mountains, as well as a yodelled refrain. At festivals and other special events, yodelling is sometimes accompanied by the ringing of Alpine bells, but more often by accordion music. Although some traditional yodelling clubs are seeing numbers dwindling, this form of singing is being taken up by a younger generation, with many children's choirs starting up. It is also becoming increasingly popular among women.

A major international yodelling festival is held every three years, attracting as many as 200,000 people, with a different Swiss town or city staging the event each time. The 2014 event was held in the ski resort of Davos, with the next event due to be held in 2017.

Traditional Folk Music and Dancing: The best known type of Swiss folk music is Ländlermusic, dance tunes played by small bands, using a range of traditional instruments. A small accordion known as the schwyzerörgeli is especially popular in German-speaking areas of Switzerland, along with clarinets and a double bass. Bands in Italian-speaking cantons often have a mandolin among their instruments, while those in the Appenzell region have a strong tradition of using stringed instruments.

The original Ländler dances are folk dances in ¾ time, dating back to the 1700s, but modern-day rural dance bands also perform other types of dance music, including polkas, mazurkas and foxtrots. One kind of traditional dance performed in central Switzerland is the Bödälä, which features rhythmic foot-stamping. Dancers often wear Swiss folk costumes, featuring ribbons, lace and full skirts for women and leather shorts for men, especially at festivals.

Alphorn: The wooden Alphorn is today known as the Swiss national instrument and has become a major tourist attraction, but at one time its use nearly died out. In the early 19th century, as dairy production moved away from the mountains and into the villages, herdsmen stopped using the horn to call the cows in from the meadows.

However, music lovers then stepped in to preserve the instrument and it has since become increasingly popular, played at yodelling festivals and other events celebrating traditional music. Each horn is around 9ft long and made from one wooden log, carefully carved out and bent at the end to resemble a cow's horn. Traditionally, the Alphorn is made from pine wood, but today other types of wood can also be used in its manufacture.

Brass Bands: Although this type of music is originally British, brass bands have become increasingly popular across Switzerland during the last half-century, with the official Swiss Army Brass Band leading the way. A Swiss brass band championship is held in Montreux each year, with more than 60 bands battling it out for a place in the European championships.

Other Styles of Music: Alongside Switzerland's flourishing traditional music and dance styles, the country also has a thriving modern music scene, with styles ranging from jazz to rock, pop and electronic music. The top musical events include the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival, founded in 1967. Another major draw is the huge outdoor Paléo festival, held in between Geneva and Lausanne, which features all kinds of musical styles and attracts around 220,000 people every summer. Whatever type of music you like, you will be able to find it in Switzerland.

Every year, many people from the UK need to arrange household moves to Switzerland. If you are planning to relocate to the country, contact Hamiltons Removals for expert advice and a full package of services tailored to your requirements. We also organise regular moves for people relocating from Switzerland to the UK.

Hamilton Removals – Click here for more information about how Hamiltons can help you.

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