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NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE, HISTORY, AND MUSIC By: Abigail Walker.

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Presentation on theme: "NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE, HISTORY, AND MUSIC By: Abigail Walker."— Presentation transcript:

1 NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE, HISTORY, AND MUSIC By: Abigail Walker

2 Introduction Traditional Native American songs are comparable/similar to European nursery rhymes in the sense that they are short and simple Despite their simplicity, they are played and presented in large groups, repetitious arrangements, and extravagant ceremonies

3 Past Native American Tribes Religion and music, both of which are extremely important to all Native Americans, typically always accompany each other in some way Music influences religion, and religion influences music Some religious ceremonies can last up to several days! The Navajo’s have a curing ceremony that lasts a total of nine days, and nights, and consisting of hundreds of songs! The Hako’s have a religious ceremony that lasts four days and includes roughly 100 songs/rituals!

4 Past Native American Tribes Average tribe was about 1,000 people strong (With the exception of some unusually very large and very small tribes) Before contact with European settlers, Native American groups had developed their own unique cultural systems that intertwined their beliefs of life and music Native American tribes have been classified, by anthropologists, into six to eight different groups based on their cultural systems

5 Example: Diversity Amongst Cultural Systems North Pacific Coastal Region Cultural System Fished Built houses from wood Had predefined social classes Totem poles Planes Region Cultural System Hunter big game Nomadic, tepee dwellers Informal political structure Believed in guardian spirits

6 General Native American Music Similarities Since music is integrated into Native American culture, groups of Native American musical characteristics can be made by examining Anthropologist’s tribal classifications: 1. Plains 2. Eastern United States 3. Yuman (Southwestern United States) 4. Athabascan (Southwestern United States) 5. Pueblo (Southwestern United States) 6. Great Basin (Utah/Nevada) 7. Northwestern Coast (Washington, Oregon, and through Canada to Alaska)

7 General Native American Music Similarities According to Native Americans, music is believed to have supernatural powers Their music is typically all monophonic, however with the addition of vocals Musical notes are usually long and use pulsations Sound similar to folk songs, hymns, and/or chants Consist of repetitious vocal melodies and phrases Strong percussion, such as drums and rattles, are used in almost every song

8 Native American Music Differences – Potential Classification Issues! There are so many tribes, large and small, that consist of unique musical characteristics Thousands of different practices, language dialects, and religious beliefs affecting musical stylings Would take YEARS to learn each style individually! Examples of some tribal differences: Plains – high pitches are sung Eastern – Creek Stomp Songs Athabascan – quick tempo music, could be recorded in quarter and eighth notes! Athabascan family. Plains family.

9 Development of Music All materials in tribal communities were communicated and “recorded” orally, therefore music was too The complexity of the songs lies in the oral significance and percussion beats In Native American music, a song does not need to be complex in order for it to be considered “beautiful” All of these are reasons why Native American music is kept simple and why it has not evolved dramatically throughout history like other forms of music have!

10 Present Native American Practices– “Powwow’s!” Powwow is a popular twentieth-century word used in Native American culture A modern-day tribal, or intertribal, meeting Intertribal: style that combines various rituals and traditions from all tribes; overall a very new concept Powwow’s are commonly arranged to preserve and unify Native American musics and cultures Usually involves traditional, and sometimes modern, music and dance performances Dances are always preformed in a solo style; performers dance with no partners

11 Present Native American Practices– Modern-Day Music Composure Most Native American Intertribal songs today are preformed a terraced melody and incomplete repetition method Terraced melody: melody that begins high but gradually drops, or “steps” down, ending in a low pitch Incomplete repetition: structure of a song that repeats First section uses short melody called the “Lead” and then that melody repeated by another singer called the “Second” Second section is a chorus composed of two or more repetitious phrases

12 Conclusion Songs are typically simple and repetitiously constructed, but extravagantly performed! Voices and percussion are the primarily played instruments There are 6 to 8 general tribal classifications made by Anthropologists Made my examining similar music, religious beliefs, and similar culture practices Music is viewed, by Native Americans, as a spiritual power Today, Native Americans join as one to celebrate and remember their heritages at intertribal powwow meetings

13 Resources (APA) Bohlman, P., Capwell, C., Dueck, B., Nettl, B., Turino, T., & Wong, I. (n.d.). Excursions in World Music. Upper Sattle River, NJ: Pearson Education.


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