swissworld.org - Switzerland's official information portal

swissworld.org - Switzerland's official information portal

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Culture

Folk music

A Schwyzerörgeli (in new window)

A Schwyzerörgeli© Imagepoint.biz

Yodelling and the alphorn are likely to spring to mind at the mention of music in Switzerland, although neither is exclusively Swiss. It is believed that yodelling began during the early stone age and has a long tradition outside Switzerland - in Poland, for example. In Switzerland, it is said to have developed from a form of long-distance communication and cow-calls.

The alphorn originated in northern Asia and was brought to Europe by nomadic tribes. Originally a call and signal instrument, it was first used to play tunes at the end of the 18th century.

Add instruments such as the Schwyzerörgeli (a type of accordion), the Hackbrett (hammered dulcimer) and the Trümpi (Jew's Harp), and you have some basic ingredients of traditional Swiss folk music.