kulning | herding calls

An archaic style of singing/calling used to call the cows and goats down from high mountain pastures where they have been grazing during the day. ‘The song of kulning’ has a high-pitched vocal technique, i.e. a loud call using head tones.

Kulning – sound sample 
sung by Karin Edvardsson Johansson, Transtrand, Dalarna, recorded by Matts Arnberg, 1954

Kulning – vocal technique used in some of Karin’s vocal music (Timpanum Songs – Herding Calls, Sun Song, Save me from sinking in the mire, In Heaven’s Hall, Líght of Light etc)

Kulning is an archaic style of singing/calling, still used in traditional Swedish folk music. Traditionally it was employed outdoors, to call animals or to communicate with other people over long distances. The sound is intense, concentrated and piercing. Should be sung at full volume in a high register without vibrato on the vowel y (also e), initiated with an attack on the consonant D or H. Technically speaking, kulning requires strong air pressure from behind the vocal folds. The larynx should be raised compared to classical singing, and the sound should have a clear and forward focus, as when calling for someone outdoors.


To read and learn: Herding calls – Kulning; an introduction to the music and the vocal technique by Susanne Rosenberg ›