march 5


Goaßlschnalzen - tradition with supersonic bang

By Frank

March 5, 2023

The name originally comes from the carter's whip, which is called "Goassl" in the Bavarian dialect, i.e. whip. The snapping refers to the loud cracking of the whip, with which the wagon drivers of the time drew attention to themselves in front of blind spots. In earlier centuries, many carters cracked their whips at the entrance to towns or on various occasions - just as the horn is used today...

AHA! cool...

Communicating Whips

To differentiate between the wagons, the wagon drivers used more and more specific sequences of bangs. This is how certain sequences and types of hits came about, such as the forehand hit , the backhand hit, the double hit and the triangle .

  • Single Stroke – ie a stroke that is simply swung and hit (forehand or backhand) over and over again
  • Double strike, the "double" - that is the traditional Fuhrmannsschnalzer, back and forth or left and right (forehand and backhand)
  • The triangle, the most complicated and difficult stroke - ie an additional stroke is inserted between the double strokes, but at double the speed, so that there is a total of 5 strokes

In the course of time, correct recognition melodies developed, with individual drivers developing considerable skills.

communication in the mountains

Shepherds used to go from alp to alp in the “Goassl” over long distances in order to be able to communicate with each other. This signaled that they are doing well on the secluded alpine pasture and that they are still alive.

Goaßlschnalzen in the mountains with sunny backlight

Goaßlschnalzen in the mountains


Breaking the sound barrier

A whip cracks when the end of a string of its string is accelerated to supersonic speeds by the blow. Like a jet, breaking the sound barrier creates a shock wave.

In 1998, Peter Krehl and Stephan Engemann from the Ernst-Mach-Institute from the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and Dieter Schwenkel from Video Kommunikation GmbH measured that the loop at the end of the whip line at the time of the crack accelerated from zero to 2000 km/h in one second , i.e. 50,000 times the acceleration due to gravity – twice the speed of sound! So the first person to break the sound barrier wasn't a jet pilot, but a Goaßlschnalzer...

The technology decides

The bang is not caused by the string hitting the ground, but by hitting it in the air, which is faster than sound. The supersonic bang is actually created by the heart of the Goassl, the hemp rope. Its end, the Schmitz, creates the bang.

The art of snapping is to keep time with singles and doubles—all as a team. And of course, every shot has to bang properly. Tempo, volume, rhythm, these are the decisive factors according to which the ends are judged.

A year of training for complex sequences

Most of them click with their right hand, the other hand in their pocket. There are also special talents that snap with both hands. This requires extraordinary concentration. Even beginners usually need a year to master more complex stroke sequences.

Appearances in the Far East (e.g. Oktoberfest tour in Malaysia) caused particular astonishment: "The Asians were always looking for gunpowder in the Goassl because they didn't think it would crack so loudly."

What's exciting to see

The Apernschnalzen

The Aperschnalzen , which takes place from St. Stephen's Day (December 26) to Shrove Tuesday (last day before Lent) in Bavaria and Austria (especially the border area around Salzburg), this Tyrolean custom is now a UNESCO cultural heritage. With the loud bang, the Goaßlschnalzer should drive away the winter and welcome spring.

According to UNESCO, the custom has been documented since the end of the 18th century. The word derives from the Old High German apir, translated snow-free.

Passen, a traditional group of nine, snap in two rounds, with the banging salvo running through the formation in around nine seconds. The main prop is a whip over five meters long, the Goassl. The conclusion is a passage called "Bosch", in which the group bangs synchronously.

Whip cracking - cracking whips...

In the last 5000 years, the whip has evolved from a punishment tool to a cowboy's work tool to a sporting tool with a high fun factor. The whip training has a fitness component, through which the entire musculature is stressed. It requires a high degree of coordination and perfect timing before the sound barrier is broken for the first time. Not to forget the fun of handling the whip:

  • Target practice - cutting flowers or pasta
  • Wrapping - catching and wrapping objects with the whip
  • Mindfulness training - the meditative aspect of the whip say you are in the here and now
  • Karabatsche whip – a whip braided from leather straps or hemp rope with a short wooden handle. Swing an eight over your head...
About the author

It is more valuable to experience a place in detail than many small impressions of an incomprehensible whole.

Genius Loci - discovering, capturing and experiencing the spirit of a place. Perceive - understand - enjoy!

As a graduate industrial engineer with an additional MBA degree from a renowned university in England (EMBA, EQUIS and AACSB accredited), I have been showing other, often surprising, paths to success for more than 30 years at C-Level (Head of Marketing and Sales worldwide).

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