Swiss perspectives in 10 languages

Bell Shaking

In Eastern Switzerland for the alp procession only the three leading cows wear huge bells made of welded sheet metal. The bells are valuable and on the way up, the herdsmen remove them from the cows in order to protect them. They are carried by the men over their arms or on yokes over their shoulders.

This tradition, documented first in 1838, may have led to the so-called bell-shaking, a musical practice which was observed first in the middle of the 19th century. The Appenzellers shake the bells for fun, much in the way that other farmers play cards. But often the bells are moved forwards and backwards to accompany the improvised polyphonic yodel vocalising.

Popular Stories

Most Discussed

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here . Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR