Swiss perspectives in 10 languages

Sounds of Switzerland


To enjoy with a wink of the eye - or should it be "ear"? A musical tour across Switzerland in 22 stages in nearly 22 minutes. This here is an acoustic collage packed with sounds, tone impressions and fragments of music.

Stage 1 – With Max Lässer’s Ark and the introduction to “Into The Rainbow”, we hope you will enjoy the trip!

First, as you might in Appenzell folk music, you will hear how a five-franc coin rotating in an earthen bowl produces a sound akin to music.

Since you are travelling in multicultural Switzerland, it is fitting that you will be addressed in for languages and a variety of dialects.

In the background, a gurgling mountain brook carries us to an alpine meadow.

Stage 2 – We hear the theme from Rossini’s “William Tell Ouverture”, inspired by Switzerland’s legendary national hero, accompanied by a courting rhyme from southerly Ticino and an excerpt from one of the programmes of popular humourist Cés Keiser.

Stage 3 – Bürgler’s Buben (Bürgler’s Boys) producing a piano-like music on partly filled bottles and give a sample of no-holds-barred yodelling. In this world of boundless acoustic contrasts, a helicopter whisks us back to the hustle and bustle of the cities.

Stage 4 – In Bernese dialect Dänu Extrem bids us “Welcome in Schwitzerländ”.

Stage 5 – Former government minister Adolf Ogi, renowned for his very personal sense of humour, repeats the night-proverbial, spontaneous words of congratulation with which he addressed Switzerland’s first man in space: “Freude herrscht!” (“Oh, joy!”).

Stage 6 – The famous parody of a Swiss german male choir “Le Männerchor de Steffisburg”, is our good-natured guide to French-speaking western Switzerland, which we reach in a dining car of the Swiss Federal Railways.

Stage 7 – Jean-Pierre Huser extols the quasi-Mediterranean micro-climate of the musically-minded city of Montreux, on the shores of Lake Geneva.

Stage 8 – The tones of a music box – a reminder of the high-precision skills of western Swiss craftsmen in centuries past and the unforgotten…

Stage 9 – …Abbé Bovet’s “Marche du printemps” (March of Springtime) propels us to an imaginary forest full of…

Stage 10 – …Alain Morisod’s chirping birds and other dulcet sounds.

Stage 11 – The scene changes dramatically with the arrival of the pioneers of Swiss Rap, Sens Unik, and their song “Helvetic Park”.

The noise in the background, from the sound archives of Swiss Radio, reminds us that Switzerland was by no means immune to the “revolutionary” climate of the late 1960ies. And speaking of the sixties, that was the heyday of three slightly scruffy bards who called themselves…

Stage 12…The Minstrels. Their mega-hit up to day was “Frau Stirnimaa”.

We roll along in a tram with the Dixie tones of…

Stage 13 – …The Glug Glug Five and their version of the theme from “William Tell”.

Geneva, whose international organisations guarantee the city’s almost daily presence in te media, is also proud of its lake whose gently rolling waves carry us to the melancholy of…

Stage 14 – “Vreneli ab em Guggisbärg” (Vreneli is a lovesick maiden who lives on a hill called “Guggisberg”), a medley based on a traditional folk song.

“Hopp Schwyz”, the battle-cry of all Swiss sports enthusiasts, leads us to the alphorn evergreen…

Stage 15 – …”Swiss Lady”, which introduced this traditional alpine wind instrument to the world of pop.

A bright-yellow Swiss postal coach and its typical three-tone-horn, which dates back to the horse-drawn coaches of yesteryear, takes us south over the St Gotthard Pass to Italian-speaking Ticino.

Stage 16 – Vox Blenii, from the alpine Blenio Valley, sings the praises of the month of May “Il Maggio”.

But, watch out! There is a storm brewing in the hills.

Stage 17 – Franz Hohler, Michel Buhler and Marco Zappa – coming from German-, French- and Italian-speaking Switzerland, respectively – present a parable on the uneasy relationship between “Geld und Geist” (matters financial and matters of the spirit).

An express train transports us to Switzerland’s biggest canton (Swiss state) Graubünden, where…

Stage 18 – …Corin Curschellas welcomes us with “La pura”, a song in the fourth national language, Romansch or Rhaeto-Romanic.

We travel on to the high-altitude Engadine Valley in a steam-propelled, cog-wheeled railroad train to hear…

Stage 19 – “Valser a la veglia” (an old fashioned waltz), played by Fränzlis da Tschlin.

Then there’s an excerpt from a national-day speech by former government minister Ruth Dreifuss. The sound of an Alpaufzug, the traditional procession of cattle being led to summer pastures in the Alps, lures us to the hills where…

Stage 20 – The Matterhorn Project treat us to their techno-hit “Moooo!”

The mood turns serious with a traditional Alpsegen (Prayer Call) and the bells of a mountain church.

Stage 21 – Rolf Liebermann’s opus “Echanges” for 156 machines wich was composed on the occasion of the Swiss national exhibition Expo 64, and considered very avant-garde at the time, reminds the listener of just how ephemeral sounds and events can be.

In a second appearance, Ruth Dreifuss offers her thoughts on the dimensions and significance of Switzerland in a global context. But we must move on – time will not stand still. And it flies at jet-like speed. Even…

Stage 22 – …the national anthem, known as the Swiss Psalm, can be interpreted in ways that will not appeal to everyone (memories of Jimmy Hendrix and Woodstock…?).
But we do not intend to rock the boat. Instead, let’s opt for a quadri-lingual finale furioso an off-beat extravaganza of sound.

Performers, songs and tunes of “Sounds of Switzerland”

1. Max Lässer’s Ark: Into the Rainbow
2. Spiel Felddivision 5: William Tell Overture
3. Bürglers Buben: Z’ Bürglers dri Buebä
4. Dänu Extrem: Welcome in Schwitzerländ
5. DJ Igo: Freude herrscht!
6. Gilles et Urfer: Le Männerchor de Steffisburg
7. Jean-Pierre Huser: Montreux
8. Music Box
9. Fanfare Amicale-Vudallaz d’Albeuve-Enney: La fanfare du printemps
10. Alain Morisod: Et les oiseaux chantaient
11. Sens Unik: Helvetic park
12. Minstrels: Grüezi wohl Frau Stirnimaa
13. The Glug Glug Five: William Tell Overture
14. Various performers: Simmelibärg/S’isch äben e Mönsch uf Aerde
15. Pepe Lienhard Band: Swiss Lady
16. Vox Blenii: Il Maggio
17. Marco Zappa, Michel Buhler, Franz Hohler: E Foti
18. Corin Curschellas: La pura
19. Ils Fränzlis da Tschlin: Valser la veglia
20. Matterhorn Project: Moo!
21. Concert des Echanges für 156 Maschinen (Rolf Liebermann)
22. Various performers: Swiss national anthem

Production information

Sounds of Switzerland – Swiss Sound Mix (2000). CCS CD 3340.2. Produced by Patrick Linder and Daniel Wihler for SRI.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR