Starting in the middle ages, and right up until the current era, you could go to the mountainous forests of parts of Sweden, Finland and Norway and hear haunting melodies, each one unique to itself, echoing through the hills and valleys. These were the shepherds, traditionally women in those areas, calling to their cows, sheep, ducks or goats. Any creature with sense would gladly come home to those beautiful voices, as would I.
Now that I’ve heard these gorgeous sounds, like yodels from another realm, I can’t get them out of my head. They are siren songs. They’re primal. They reach the marrow of your bones. For a great example of Kulning, go here. If, after that, you are as hungry for more as I was, and if you’re patient enough to wait through the Swedish narrative, you can hear many more examples in this video.
Sadly, this way of life is dying out, and the valleys are much more quiet and introspective than they once were. Kulning has turned into an art form that one can experience in live performances, but if you’re lucky enough to actually see cows being sung home, it will be a rare treat, indeed.
It’s a very sad moment when the world loses a wondrous sound.
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