Calling All Cows
November 7, 2016 4:09 AM   Subscribe

Watch Swedish artist Jonna Jinton summon a herd of cows in less than a minute using only a high-pitched, traditional Scandinavian singing technique known as kulning. posted by trotzdem_kunst (35 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm a little suspicious of the sheer amount of reverb on something supposedly recorded outside...
posted by Dysk at 4:13 AM on November 7, 2016 [8 favorites]


....Maybe it's just cows digging music of any kind?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:37 AM on November 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


While it's very pretty and atmospheric (and quite sexy to at least one of the cattle), you can teach animals to come when called very easily by just building an association between a call and food. When I worked at a stables, I could summon an entire herd of horses simply by shouting "COOOOME OOOOONNNN!", which was what we used to call them in for meals (I didn't even need to wear a white dress!)...so....not to be Debbie Downer but there's nothing magical about this other than the fact that it sounds cool and is nicely shot. The cows in all likelihood know that someone calling them like that means they might get fed something extra good like grain (or even hay), because they've been taught.

Or they're simply curious and where one herd animal goes, the others tend to follow.
posted by biscotti at 4:39 AM on November 7, 2016 [9 favorites]


The Story of the Weeping Camel ends with a woman compelling a she-camel to reconcile with her abandoned camel-baby by singing a song to her. Magical!
posted by BinGregory at 4:44 AM on November 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Beautiful, thanks for posting. Reminds me of the wonderful Roy Andersson's work. Nice to see actual cows on cowbell. Lovely light and sound.
posted by effluvia at 5:08 AM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


maybe cows just like music?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:12 AM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


biscotti has the rights of it. I have several horses who live in a big field with other horses (not mine) and I can selectively call out an individual horse by name (eg: Bird-Bird-Bird C'Mere Son -- which summons the grey five year old gelding -- or Hello, Beautiful, Hey Dere Nick-Nick! -- which summons the surly creaky bay mare) without getting any of the other horses. It's not magic. It's basic conditioning. Go to gate, call for your horse (Do the same call every time you try this. Horses do not like variety.). If horse comes, great. If not, GO GET HORSE, do something nice (food works well) for horse, turn horse loose again. Try again tomorrow. Horse will typically be coming to your call in under a week.

Cows work much the same way. My friend keeps a couple of Jersey cows for milk to raise kill-pen dairy bull calves from the $50 kill-pen size to "drink well from buckets, can be resold for $150" size. (It's a side gig for her.) Anyway, each cow knows her call. Sutherland comes to Sook-sook-soocow and Three Tits comes to Mwaoh, mwaoh (it's a fairly realistic imitation of a cow noise as performed by the cow milker for Three Tits). The calls are not musical or elegant and nobody is wearing a spotless white dress, but the cows do, indeed, come when called.

Nobody wants to stomp across twenty acres of hilly, muddy pasture to gather up critters, especially if you can teach the critters to come to you.
posted by which_chick at 5:21 AM on November 7, 2016 [20 favorites]


I never get tired of that Lorde on trombone video. My short attention span grand-nephew will sit through the whole thing.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:29 AM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, cows are inherently curious. If you are riding a horse along the road and come to a fenced field enclosing dairy cows that are not familiar with horses, the cows will all come over to the fence line to check you and your horse out. (Your horse may find this somewhat alarming, if not used to cows.) And the herd of cows will then glom along the fence, following your progress outside of the fence until you leave them bunched up in the corner of their field, able to go no further and still watching you ride out of sight.

So, perhaps, if you showed up in your sparkly white dress and started singing outside the field of the cows, they might come over and look at you. Y'know, just to see.

Here are some cows checking out a remote controlled car: https://youtu.be/W_ROUREcM4I

Note the lowering of the head (this is a "What the heck is that?" expression/posture from a cow) while the cows try to figure out the remote controlled car. Also, the cows chasing the car around are playing, not scared or angry.
posted by which_chick at 5:31 AM on November 7, 2016 [7 favorites]


Fucking Jesus shit. Don't read the comments. We now live in a world where a woman singing to some cows is an excuse for nazis to celebrate their Aryan heritage and talk about how the purity of their culture and race is under threat by invading Muslims.
posted by silence at 5:31 AM on November 7, 2016 [23 favorites]


I used to walk home from school through fields of cows. One thing I learned fairly quickly is that they tend to wander over to you to see what's up. They're like that (or rather, the ones that are used to being around humans are).
posted by pipeski at 6:03 AM on November 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


While it's very pretty and atmospheric (and quite sexy to at least one of the cattle), you can teach animals to come when called very easily by just building an association between a call and food.
posted by biscotti at 7:39 AM on November 7 [1 favorite +]


My grandfather farmed tobacco, but he also kept pigs, chickens, and cows. He was a man of habit who was extremely regular in his farming schedule, especially when it came to looking after his livestock.

For as long as I and any of my older cousins can remember, at exactly fifteen minutes to 5pm each day, the cows out in Granddaddy's fields would turn and slowly amble towards the barn, where my grandfather would meet them at 5pm on the dot and start dispensing their feed.
posted by magstheaxe at 6:25 AM on November 7, 2016 [9 favorites]


I think standing around in a field all day chewing could be a bit dull. Any novelty would be welcome. Just not too novel, I once went bicycling on country roads with a friend at her grandparents house. It freaked the cows out, they jumped up and ran away. We didn't do that any more.
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:27 AM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Beautiful. Kulning is used extensively in the soundtrack for the game Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.
posted by xedrik at 6:47 AM on November 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Åsa Larsson example linked above as well as this example by Helle Thun give a much more accurate idea of kulning than most of the youtube examples by Jonna Jinton, many of which seem much more like "normal untrained singing kulning patterns" than actual kulning. The "white dress video" gives a particularly unrealistic impression. This is a tight and tense singing technique executed with a high laryngeal position. It is not a traditionally beautiful or relaxed style of singing. Rather, it is a kind of vocal equivalent to the piercing tones produced by a bosun's call. The Helle Thun example does a good job of conveying the tense muscularity of kulning.
posted by slkinsey at 7:36 AM on November 7, 2016 [16 favorites]


My Cowshed Is Fresh!
posted by lazycomputerkids at 7:41 AM on November 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Helle Thun example does a good job of conveying the tense muscularity of kulning.

It is also a gorgeous, gorgeous sound, and the ending to that video made me spit tea on my keyboard. Awesome link, thanks.
posted by Dysk at 7:54 AM on November 7, 2016


Cool, thanks for posting!
posted by carter at 7:55 AM on November 7, 2016


Yeah,

My experience of cows in Sweden is that you do your best to stay out of their damn way, because if they don't like you they will attempt to drown you in the biggest, nastiest slurry pond.

Just carry a stick, the farmer said. How does that work, I asked. Oh, who knows, she said, but you'll be fine.

I carried the stick. I was not fine. Swedish cows, I will not sing for you. I will allow - encourage - other people to kill you, butcher you and cook you, and then I will eat you, but I will not sing for you.

Swans are also worth avoiding rather than serenading. And if you REALLY want my absolute admiration for critter-controlling vocalisation, sing me the song that turns the million-mosquito airforce back to base.

And don't get me started on Swedish badgers. They don't listen to death metal. They eat death metal bands. As snacks.

Sweden. Lovely place. The animals, though, contain the souls of dead Vikings still holding out for Valhalla.
posted by Devonian at 8:32 AM on November 7, 2016 [19 favorites]


is an excuse for nazis to celebrate their Aryan heritage

I think you'll find they will take any excuse "This coffee is shitty, not like the coffee made by my proud Aryan mutter" "Did you see friends last night? What? No, I was watching the proud Aryans on Fox News" etc.

not used, the tendancy to degrade others by comparison, I'm not a nazi nor aryan and am not in practice
posted by NiteMayr at 9:22 AM on November 7, 2016


Mr.Eddie Arnold , cattle call apotheosis
posted by hortense at 11:01 AM on November 7, 2016


I'm a little suspicious of the sheer amount of reverb on something supposedly recorded outside...

Next you're going to tell me that the part of Sweden she lives in doesn't look quite as ethereal and John Bauer-like in real life as it does on her blog? :-)

(Jinton's a pretty popular photo/video blogger (also known as "influencer" these days when the marketing folks descended on the blogosphere) who, a few years ago, decided to leave the big city and move to a tiny village where her grandma grew up (here's an interview in Swedish). I don't think she's ever claimed to be a kulning authority, this was just a fun video that went viral.)
posted by effbot at 11:13 AM on November 7, 2016


Next you're going to tell me that the part of Sweden she lives in doesn't look quite as ethereal and John Bauer-like in real life as it does on her blog? :-)

Eh, there's less artifice (and deliberate misleading) going on in most of the photos there, I reckon. Pains have been taken to present the audio as something other than a studio overdub (which is what it is).
posted by Dysk at 11:16 AM on November 7, 2016


silence: skinny blond women in impractical farm clothing gazing across verdant fields is 100% a neo-Aryan trope; it's like the number one meme template you'll find among the volkisch alt-right. In fact that was the first thing I thought as soon as I watched this video, and so didn't even bother with the comments.
posted by xthlc at 11:17 AM on November 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


(Says name. Cow explodes.)

My own name is a kulning word.
posted by maxsparber at 11:46 AM on November 7, 2016 [13 favorites]


Moo'Dib.
posted by Artw at 11:50 AM on November 7, 2016 [15 favorites]


skinny blond women in impractical farm clothing gazing across verdant fields is 100% a neo-Aryan trope

Skinny blond women in impractical clothing are everywhere in Sweden. So are fields.
posted by effbot at 11:52 AM on November 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


Skinny blond women in impractical clothing are everywhere in Sweden. So are fields.

Yep, and like nearly any other expression of Nordic cultural heritage or history on the internet, it sadly disproportionately attracts racist dirtbags :(
posted by Dysk at 11:56 AM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


That was pretty. However, I think this did not need more cow bell.
posted by KHAAAN! at 1:29 PM on November 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


That "true kulning" video really brought out my Pomeranian's inner wolf (the only other things I've ever found that make him howl are fire trucks and actual wolves).
posted by drlith at 1:53 PM on November 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


It really seemed to work on the swan and her cygnet. Beautiful. slkinsey's video was funny, but Helle Thun had the same ethereal quality to her singing as the others.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:18 PM on November 7, 2016


Where I grew up everyone yells "coboss!" over and over to bring the cows in, always seemed to work.
posted by Cosine at 3:44 PM on November 7, 2016


Where I grew up everyone yells "coboss!" over and over to bring the cows in

Same here, with a "here bossy" thrown in once in a while to spice it up.
posted by davey_darling at 6:32 PM on November 7, 2016


Glenn Gould sings to animals, with much less photogenic results.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:13 PM on November 7, 2016


My uncle shot dead his parrot one hungover afternoon after his birthday.

My uncle would milk the cows early in the morning. He would call each cow by name, and they would come to be milked. Then they would walk a mile or so to pasture in the fresh green grass.

Then milk production started going down, some of the young cows started lagging in weight gains, and some of the old ones were losing some.

Some stopped responding to his calls.

On his birthday my uncle got very drunk. Still woke up to milk the cows, but was so hungover he fell asleep in the barn.

He was woken up by his parrot calling the cows from the kitchen window. The parrot would call them one by one. The parrot would wait for the cow, and would sing and talk to the cow until it got bored and walked back to the pasture. Then it would call the next cow. Over and over again.

The cows were walking an extra 10 miles a day, and had no time to eat.

So my uncle took out his gun, shot the parrot, and went back to sleep.
posted by Dr. Curare at 10:07 AM on November 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


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