Kühreihen / Kuhreihen

For a short summary of what constitutes a "Kuhreihen" (spelled variously, sometimes with or without the u-umlaut, ü), see the Wikipedia page "Ranz de Vaches." The word "Kuhreihen" is both singular (masculine: der Kuhreihen) and plural (die Kuhreihen). One view is that the compound word Kuh (cow) + Reihen (row) is a description of how grazing cows who are being called by a herdsman's song begin to head toward the herdsman, forming a row, one behind the other, as they proceed.

The term "Kühreihen" has a complex linguistic and cultural history that is still not completely understood. The use of Kühreihen in the context of the early 1800's has not been employed for about 150 years. Modernization has displaced the old traditions. Yet the Kühreihen, the alphorn and yodeling (among many other old Swiss traditions) are today topics of intense research.

A collection of Kuhreihen from Swiss festivals at Unspunnen (in Interlaken) in the early 1800s was published in 1826. A reprint of the 1826 edition, with a wonderful series of critical essays, was published in 1979 (see this page, under 1979, for bibliographic information).

A book scan of the 1826 edition is available for download here from Google Books. Individual song scans provided in the links below are extracted from a downloaded file.

Resetting in MuseScore 3

I reset the scores in MuseScore 3. Pdf and mp3 files generated from the MuseScore files are linked below.

I believe I have corrected several errors in the 1826 scores, and I have undoubtedly both missed some needed corrections, as well as introduced my own errors. Having served in the past as quality control music editor for an online sheet music company, I am aware of how easy it is when working alone to "see" and "hear" what one expects, only to discover that an exact examination of the music file shows a different reality. That is why we always had multiple editors engaged in the setting and proofing of digitally produced music scores. I have no staff of music editors at my disposal, I am not a musicologist, and what I have learned about the history and use of Kuhreihen comes from a small handful of books and articles, many of which are listed on this web page link. I am looking for someone with far more native expertise to provide feedback on my scores.

Wouldn't it be fun to begin preparing live performances of these Kuhreihen, sung and played by musicians from their respective areas, at the next Unspunnenfest in 2029? That is less than 8 years from now (as of January 2022). Let the rehearsals begin! :) It would be a fitting way to commemorate the bicentennial of the 1826 edition that includes Kuhreihen from the first two Unspunnenfests in 1805 and 1808.

My reset scores provide almost no musical interpretation, other than tempo settings (which are provided only in descriptive terms in some of the scores), fermatas, and a few short pauses between sections. I was simply interested in acquiring a feel for the sound these songs, which, even though mechanically generated, have produced a level of personal enthusiasm that I had not expected. They are full of emotion: joy, sadness, longing, and more. Explore and see what you think! Imagine the range and depth of musical expression that was generated by those who sang and played these songs long ago. The scores are also not optimized for vocal performance. The primary purpose for creating the scores was simply to get an approximate feel for how they sound.


My MuseScore files do not contain lyrics. The original scans contain only the first stanza. All of the lyrics are found in Texte zu der Sammlung von Schweizer-Kühreihen und Volksliedern (Vierte, viel vermehrte und verbesserte Ausgabe), von Joh. Rud. Wyss, Professor. Bern, 1826 (available as a free download on Google Books).

I will be updating the files as I make corrections and complete the series. I am also working on providing an English translation of the lyrics, but that is quite a difficult undertaking since some of the Swiss-German lyrics are not well understood. The glossary at the end of the Texte zu der Sammlung (above) is indispensable.


  • Songs #1-62 and 75 are scored for: Guitar, Voice, Piano.
  • Songs #63-72 and 76 are scored for Piano. I added a Voice staff to each.
  • Songs #73-74 are scored for: Violin, Hackbrett (Dulcimer), Bass.

Songs with interesting settings indicated:

  • Songs scored for 2 voices (zweistimmig): 7, 19, 52
  • Songs that are "happy, cheerful" (fröhlich, frohmütig): 8, 11, 12, 14, 26, 28, 34b
  • Songs that are "bright, cheerful" (heiter): 20, 49
  • A song that is "heartfelt, warm, cordial" (herzlich): 51
  • Songs that are "lamenting, pained, plaintive" (klagend): 13, 23
  • The contrast between the "cheerful" song when the cows are brought up to the alpine pastures in the Spring (11) and the "plaintive" song when the cows are brought back down in the Autumn (13)
  • Songs that are "funny, jovial, amusing" (lustig): 44, 50, 55
  • Songs that are "lively" (lebhaft): 3, 4
  • Songs that are "pleasant, cozy, warm" (gemüthlich): 20, 21, 22
  • A song that is "joking, facetious" (scherzend): 33a/33b
  • A song that is "mocking, scoffing, sneering" (höhnisch): 39
  • A song that is "narrative" (erzählend): 47
  • Songs set in Minor Mode (example: 6)


Only a few of the songs in this collection appear to be playable on the alphorn. For an analysis of the Kuhreihen in general, including information about which are suitable for the alphorn, see Hans-Jürg Sommer, Eine Auswertung und Interpretation historischer Quellen zur Alphornmelodik, 2010, "Der Kühreihen: Definition des Begriffs and Analyse der Quellen bis 1820, sowie deren Spielbarkeit auf dem Alphorn," pp. 33-76.

Key to Table

  • Nr. is the song # from the 1826 edition
  • "Title: Pdf File from MuseScore" is generated from my input into Muse Score
  • mp3 is the audio file generated from the MuseScore file
  • scan is the extracted file from the Google Books file (pdf format)
  • txt will be either a scan of the texts from the 1826 Texte zu der Sammlung von Schweizer-Kühreihen und Volksliedern, or newly typeset versions with translations (still in planning stages).

The Kuhreien

Nr. Title: Pdf File from MuseScore mp3 scan txt
1 Kühreihen der Oberhasler mp3 scan  
2 Kühreihen der Oberländer mp3 scan  
3 Kühreihen der Siebenthaler (lebhaft) mp3 scan  
4 Kühreihen der Siebenthaler (andere Melodie, lebhaft) mp3 scan  
5 Kühreihen der Emmenthaler mp3 scan  
6 Kühreihen der Emmenthaler mp3 scan  
7 Kühreihen der Emmenthaler (zweistimmig, nicht geschwind) mp3 scan  
8 Kühreihen der Entlibucher (fröhlich) mp3 scan  
9 Kühreihen der Appenzeller mp3 scan  
10 Des Kühers Frühlingslied mp3 scan  
11 Kühreihen zum Aufzug auf die Alp im Frühling (fröhlich) mp3 scan  
12 Küher Leben (frohmütig) mp3 scan  
13 Kühreihen zur Abfahrt von der Alp im Herbste (klagend) mp3 scan  
14 Geissreihen (fröhlich) mp3 scan  
15 Ranz de Vaches des Ormonds du Canton de Vaud mp3 scan  
16 Ranz de Vaches des Ormonds du Canton de Vaud (autre Melodie) mp3 scan  
17 Ranz de Vaches des Alpes de Gruyères du Canton de Frybourg mp3 scan  
18 Ranz de Vaches, avec Texte moderne mp3 scan  
19 Ranz de Vaches (zweistimmig) mp3 scan  
20 Der Gemsjager (gemüthlich heiter) mp3 scan  
21 Was heimelig syg (gemüthlich) mp3 scan  
22 Sehnsucht nach der Heimath (gemüthlich sanft) mp3 scan  
23 Schwytzer Heimweh (klagend) mp3 scan  
24 Die Heimkehr mp3 scan  
25 Der ledige Sennhirt mp3 scan  
26 Mein Liebchen (fröhlich) mp3 scan  
27 Der Chilter mp3 scan  
28 Der Hochzyter (fröhlich) mp3 scan  
29 Der Hochzyt Tanz mp3 scan  
30 Schweizerisches Wiegenlied (nicht geschwind) mp3 scan  
31 Das Lied der Guggisberger mp3 scan  
32 Hansi's Liebesantrag (nicht zu geschwind) mp3 scan  
33a Liebesklage (scherzend) mp3 scan  
33b Liebesklage (andere Melodie) mp3 scan  
34a Ulli und Elsi mp3 scan  
34b Ulli und Elsi (andere Melodie, fröhlich) mp3 scan  
35 Dursli und Bäbeli mp3 scan  
36 Bitte und Abfertigung mp3 scan  
37 Spott zum Schaden (höhnisch) mp3 scan  
38 Warnung und Nachfrage (leicht) mp3 scan  
39 Freundliche Weisung mp3 scan  
40 Die aufgegebene Liebe mp3 scan  
41 Das Mailied mp3 scan  
42 Das alte und das junge Weib mp3 scan  
43 Das Kätzchen mp3 scan  
44 Der Seppli und der Joggeli (Solothurnisch, lustig) mp3 scan  
45 Die verlorne Kuh mp3 scan  
46 Im Winter (mit Gefühl) mp3 scan  
47 Die Reise ins Schlaraffenland (erzählend) mp3 scan  
48 Der junge Graf mp3 scan  
49 Appenzellerlied (heiter, doch nicht zu geschwind) mp3 scan  
50 Appenzellerlied (lustig) mp3 scan  
51 Mein Blümchen (herzlich) mp3 scan  
52 Des Buben Schützenlied (zweistimmig) mp3 scan  
53 Des Schwyzerbuebe Schwyzzerfreud mp3 scan  
54 Was machen? mp3 scan  
55 Meh dass äbbe (lustig) mp3 scan  
56 Betrübter Abschied (langsam) mp3 scan  
57 Bescheidne Weisung (nicht geschwind) mp3 scan  
58 Nach dem Regen (langsam) mp3 scan  
59 Traduction de la visite nocturne mp3 scan  
60 Rundgesänge des Cantons Fryburg (No. 1) mp3 scan  
61 Rundgesang des Cantons Fryburg (No. 2) mp3 scan  
62 Rundgesang des Cantons Fryburg (No. 3) mp3 scan  
63 Appenzeller Kühreihen * mp3 scan  
64 Appenzeller Kühreihen (nicht zu geschwind) mp3 scan  
65 Appenzeller Ruguser mp3 scan  
66 Kühreihen aus Rousseau's Wörterbuch mp3 scan  
67 Kühreihen des Jorat Gebirgs mp3 scan  
68 Kühreihen des Pilatus Berg mp3 scan  
69 Kühreihen von Viotti mp3 scan  
70 Schweitzertänze (No. 1) mp3 scan  
71 Schweitzertanz (No. 2) mp3 scan  
72 Schweitzertanz (No. 3) mp3 scan  
73 Appenzeller Tänze (No. 1) mp3 scan  
74 Appenzellertanz (No. 2) mp3 scan  
75 Traduction du chasseur de chamois / Der Gemsjäger mp3 scan  
76 Souvenir du Simplon mp3 scan  


* Song 63 includes the following information in the header:

Diese ist der Kühreihen, den Herr Kapellmeister Joseph Weigli in seiner vortrefflichen Oper: die Schweitzerfamilie so herrlich zu benutzen wusste und dessen Anhören, wie das der lieblichen Oper selbst, so manchen Schweitzer mit wehmüthiger Erinnerung in seine Heimath versetzte. — F. Huber

[This is the Kuhreihen that Mr. Kapellmeister Joseph Weigli in his excellent opera: The Swiss Family knew how to use so wonderfully, that the hearing of it, like the hearing of the lovely opera itself, has transported many a Swiss with wistful memory to his homeland.]


Email: gary@alphorns.com