Kulokk

Norwegian Herding Calls

Peggy Larson Singing Kulokk, Amsterdam

Kulokk is an ancient vocal tradition in Norway. Since the middle ages, young girls have been sent into the mountains to tend the herds in the summer months. The young farmers would call to their beloved herds with musical calls that could be heard up to five kilometers away. Each "seter" farmer (summer farmer) had her own melody or call to gather in her herd. they also used these calls to contact each other, to ward off the bears and wolves in the mountains, and to sing to themselves and each other during  the long summer evenings. 

Other Kulokk Links:

The English language article "Kulokk (koeien lokken) in Noorwegen" from the NVZ (Netherlands Society of Singing Teachers) was published in 2014. It tells about the history and the vocal techniques of kulokk and also includes a kulokk melody.  

The calls can be long calls, maybe using the names of the cattle, long melodic lines with many beautiful embellishments, existing  melodies with lyrics often adaptic to fit each herd, and very poetic songs with several verses. The setar farmers would also improvise on the melodies, to keep it interesting for themselves and to keep communicating with the cows until they got home safely.  

 

Many kulokk melodies have been archived in the Norwegian Folk music Museum and the Valdres FolkMusic Museum. Peggy was able to download many of these melodies and has transcribed them. They are available in her book "Sing 'til the Cows Come Home." (to order: see Home page)