Kulning is the Swedish word for the herding calls that women would use to call sheep, goats and cows down from the high pastures where they had been grazing.
Listen to Helle’s kulning, “Over the Wind”:
The word kulning comes from the Swedish “kuh-lock” (calling the cows). The technique is a kind of shout in a very high vocal register and the sound is at once very powerful and very beautiful. Kulning can travel over distances of up to five kilometers.
Shepherdesses used kulning to direct their herds, communicate with one another, call for a lost animal, or signal for help. Different animals had their own calls, forming a musical language. Kulning was taught orally, with young women learning from elders and developing their own style.
Swedes who grew up in the country still remember their mothers and grandmothers calling to the animals like this and find the sounds very nostalgic and powerful. People in Bruksvallarna, the town near Fjällbäcken Lodge, love to hear our kulning sounds echoing from the mountains!
You Can Learn Kulning Too!
Regardless of your level of singing experience, you can learn how to do kulning. These powerful sounds do not take years and years of practice — they come from the right breathing techniques, posture, resonance, projection, and conviction! We have worked with people at all levels of experience — from professional singers to people who are terrified of singing in front of others.
At The Nordic Woman retreat, we will instruct you in the breathing techniques, posture, and technical aspects of the form. Over the course of the retreat, we will guide you to find your kulning sound and teach you improvisation techniques so you can make your own calls. We will also introduce you to a repertoire of traditional calls and Swedish folk songs so you can incorporate them into your own improvisation.
Sing With The Land
Kulning is not a dead historical tradition — it is about a living relationship with nature. The original herding women knew the spots with the best echoes. In the magical landscapes of Sweden’s birch forests and mossy mountains, you will hear how the calls bring these ancient landscapes to life as they echo and sing back to you.
This intimate, creative way of relating to the Earth is so valuable, yet difficult to find in our industrialized, digitized modern world. At The Nordic Woman retreat, we explore the ancient art of kulning as a way of returning to inner presence and power.
Give Voice to Your True Nature
Kulning is about more than performing a ‘good’ sound — it is about truly freeing your voice. Making these powerful loud sounds requires having conviction and taking up space! Working with the voice is a tangible empowerment that most women need in many parts of life.
The Nordic Woman retreat leaders understand the courage it takes to express yourself from deep within. We create a safe and supportive environment so you can move beyond hesitation, fear and self-doubt into finding and expressing your creative power and joy.