CURIOUS SOUNDS: Kulning, the ancient Scandinavian music that controls animals.

Posted by Anne-Sophie | August 24, 2017 | MUSIC
Kulning - Curious Sounds


Jonna Jinton is a 26 year old Instagram star living in Sweden. She’s not a fashion icon, nor a lifestyle influencer; she practices Kulning, a traditional voice technique used by women in Scandinavia to call cattle when herding. Jinton is also a talented photographer who knows how to capture the magic of the vanishing natural world. Her story sounds like one most of us dream about when we’re slumped behind our desks on a Monday afternoon. Originally from Gothenburg, Jinton slammed the door on her city life 5 years ago. She was suffocating in the concrete jungle and felt trapped in her urban daily routine. Feeling miserable and longing to change her way of living, Jonna moved from city life to a cabin by the forest next to a small hamlet (population: ten). Jonna now takes amazing pictures for a living and lives a “traditional” Swedish life, which includes foraging, self-sufficiency and chanting Kulning.

Kulning, or Kaukning in some parts of Norway, is a medieval form of Scandinavian singing often used to call livestock down from inaccessible mountain pastures.Although the ethereal bordering-on-eerie songs have been kept alive by people like Jonna Jinton, the tradition is slowly dying out.

How does it work?

Much like yodeling, Kulning is music made for long distance sound propagation. When a call is made, it rings and echoes in the valley. The animals respond to the call. Some calls include specific animal names to call the animals that tend to lead the herd. The herds are never very large so it’s easy to call them. Kulning is also used to scare off predators such as wolves.

Where have I heard Kulning before?

Edvard Grieg’s classical works were greatly inspired by Scandinavian herd-calling and it’s still used by certain Scandinavian folk groups like Frifot.

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If you like Sigur Ros or music that is heavily connected to the natural world, vast nordic landscapes, or otherworldly sounds, you’ve come to the right place.


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