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Germanic types in yodeling copyright tussle

Yodel - Ay - EEE - Sue

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What's exactly in a yodel that brings a rosy hue to the milkmaid's cheek and spins the goatherd's lederhosen in knots?

In the world of Alpine folk music, it's no mere idle question to echo off the walls. The falsetto refrain "Holla-rä-di-ri, di-ri, di-ri" to one of the German language's most famous yodeling songs was at the heart of a copyright battle this week in Munich.

The heirs to Karl Ganzer, the Austrian composer who 60 years ago penned "The Pearl of Tyrol" (also known as the Kufstein-Song) have successfully sued its publisher, Egon Frauenberger, over his alleged contribution to the song's yodeling parts. Frauenberger claims the Kufstein Song's famous refrain was his idea and that he has right to continue collecting one-twelfth the of the royalties when it's played in beer festivals and broadcast near-weekly on public television in Germany and Austria.

Frauenberger argues he "jazzed up" the yodeling passage from its original and more "pedestrian" trill of "Di-da, di-da-da-da," according to Der Spiegel. He asserts the change gave The Kufstein Song a necessary Alpine ooph(-pa-pa) to become one of Europe's most popular folk songs. But it wasn't until 2001 — thirteen years after Ganzer's death — he had the license changed to credit himself as co-composer.

"He made it more exciting to listen to in Oktoberfest tents, and also more exciting for bands to play," Frauenberger's lawyer told the paper.

Ganzer's heirs argue the change doesn't entitle the publisher to an estimated £3,000 a year in royalties.

Chief judge Peter Guntz found that a major flaw in Fraudenberger's argument was that yodeling rarely follows a standard score. Some sing the lines "holla-huri," for example, and others "holla-lei" instead. Combined with the producer having waited until 2001 to begin claiming his contribution to the yodeling refrain resulted in a swift kick off the mountain. ®

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