Jodel Solo (Solo Yodelling)

Performance series

Museum: Roothuus Gonten ‘Zentrum fÜr Appenzeller und Toggenburger Volksmusik (Centre for Traditional Music of Appenzell and Toggenburg regions)  website
Years: 2014/15 (1st edition), 2018 (2nd edition)

Roothuus Gonten ‘Zentrum fÜr Appenzeller und Toggenburger Volksmusik (Centre for Traditional Music of Appenzell and Toggenburg regions)

The ‘Roothuus Gonten ‘Zentrum für Appenzeller und Toggenburger Volksmusik’ aims to safeguard and further develop traditional music and yodelling (i.e. mainly the ICH domains of ‘oral traditions and expressions’ and of ‘performing arts’) in the regions of Appenzell and Toggenburg, Switzerland. ‘Folk music in the Appenzellerland and Toggenburg regions’ was inscribed in the national ICH inventory, published in 2012 (

The ‘Roothuus Gonten’ is simultaneously

  • a museum (exhibiting musical instruments, pictures of musicians, other music related objects, and the building, dating from 1764, with its original interior setting),
  • a library (holding all relevant publications about traditional music in the regions of Appenzell and Toggenburg),
  • an archive (preserving music manuscripts and recordings),
  • a partner for research teams (documenting and studying in field researches the current practice of traditional music),
  • and an organiser of musical activities.

ICH practitioners are mainly involved in the concerts, which are held regularly at the ‘Roothuus Gonten’. Some give courses there, contributing to the transmission of musical knowledge. Singers and musicians are invited to deposit their manuscripts of musical compositions at the Roothuus or hand over old manuscripts. Written sources of traditional music are edited, published, and made available to contemporary practitioners of traditional music.

The institution has grown out of a private initiative. Over the years, it has received ever broader support and is financed today by the cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, and St. Gallen; by the district of Gonten and the Appenzellische GemeinnÜtzigen Gesellschaft; by foundations (on a project-related basis); and by donations from private persons. The collaboration of the three cantons, being the main founders of the ‘Roothuus Gonten’, is remarkable, because each of them have their own cultural policy according to the federalist political system of Switzerland. In 2003, when the foundation was established, only the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden was participating. The canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, having been invited to participate from 1999 on, only became a co-founder in 2005. The canton of St. Gallen joined as co-founder in 2009, and 2014 saw the name change of the ‘Zentrum fÜr Appenzellische Volksmusik’ to include the St. Gallen region of Toggenburg. This gradual ‘and sometimes questioned ‘expansion of collaboration to position the ‘Roothuus Gonten’ as an umbrella institution for the safeguarding of traditional music and yodelling in all three regions relates to the emphasis ICH practitioners put on their regional differences rather than on their similarities. In today’s activities of the ‘Zentrum fÜr Appenzeller und Toggenburger Volksmusik’ it is crucial to always consider each of the regions equally. The representatives of the three cantons in the foundation council support and monitor this equal consideration.

The ‘Roothuus Gonten’ is also active in establishing a national network to further promote traditional music and singing. It cooperates therefore with institutions with similar goals and activities.

Photo: (c) Roothuus Gonten

Jodel Solo (Solo Yodelling)

Description of the project / practice / program

Two yodellers performed as soloists for 15 minutes each at a selected outdoor location in the regions of Appenzell and Toggenburg. Each performance location had its own landscape and acoustic properties, but weather conditions would interfere in each particular performance. To reach these stages, located in nature, one had to leave roads and walk up a hill, through grassland or into a forest. The performances took place at times when singing was originally performed to accompany specific actions, such as 6 am for milking the cows, or 9 pm to pray for protection of the mountain pastures and against harm in the night. The aim of the project was twofold (

  • We would like to give solo yodelling a special stage.
  • We would like to revive solo yodelling in everyday life.

Performances were attended by up to 50 listeners, mostly from the three regions. As expected, due to the unusual performance times, some performances had no audience, but the singers reported that it made them aware that they are, as individuals, important for the safeguarding of the tradition. The performances in the ‘Jodel Solo’ series were recorded in a documentation project on current yodelling practices.

How were practitioners of intangible cultural heritage involved?

30 to 60 yodellers were performing in this project, each as soloist and, at the final event, together with others. They were singing the regional variants of yodelling, the ‘Rugguusseli’ (Appenzell Innerrhoden), the ‘Zauerli’ (Appenzell Ausserrhoden), and ‘Johle’ (Toggenburg), as well as other forms of yodelling.

CV of the author

Marc-Antoine Camp

Marc-Antoine Camp is council member of the foundation ‘Roothuus Gonten’, running the ‘Zentrum für Appenzeller und Toggenburger Volksmusik’, and head of music education research at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Switzerland. His research and publications focus on music education, the transmission of musical knowledge, and the concept of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in Switzerland, Brazil, and China.


  • Talk to neighbours: Small differences in viewpoints and the lack of pragmatic solutions lead to neighbours losing money in numerous lawsuits. Small differences in cultural heritage, emphasised by the neighbouring populations of Appenzell Innerrhoden, Appenzell Ausserrhoden and St. Gallen’s Toggenburg, are often also aspects of conflicts, albeit not in court. The ‘Roothuus Gonten’ opts to not only avoid neighbours’ conflicts, but to link their cultural heritages. Based on a collaboration mainly between three cantons and intense network activities among ICH practitioners, the ‘Roothuus Gonten’ is able to make a synergetic and decisive contribution to the safeguarding of ICH culture in all three regions. However, the ‘Roothuus Gonten’ has to continuously negotiate and re-affirm this collaboration in cultural policy by equally involving all regions in their activities. The ‘Jodel Solo’ project, with the integration of ICH actors from all regions, illustrates how collaborations between actors of cultural policy and inclusion of ICH bearers are not only time consuming endeavours for a museum, but also a way to guarantee a strong anchoring of an institution in its culturally heterogeneous target population.
  • Go outdoors: To invite people to experience ICH in particular public spaces or even in original functional settings can increase its visibility and audibility, therefore promoting its valorisation. When exhibiting ICH outside their walls, museums may reach people who perceive these institutions as having a high threshold or who are not motivated to undertake long travel to the museum. One of the aims of ‘Jodel Solo’ was to make a step towards potential future museum visitors and reach them with an immediacy that was not possible in the spaces of the ‘Roothuus Gonten’. The performance series outside the museum was not only a valorisation of the ICH itself, but also made the ‘Roothuus Gonten’, as the institution promoting ICH, more visible.



16 June 2020 from 18:09 to 18:09


Gonten, Switzerland


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