Presentation on theme: "Music of Native America"— Presentation transcript:
1 Music of Native America MUSI 3721YUniversity of Lethbridge, Calgary CampusJohn Anderson
2 Musical AreasLocalized Native American (American Indian) music is classified by stylistic features characterizing geographical areasThe culture area concept, developed and used by American anthropologists in the early 20th century, was first and most successfully applied to the mapping of Native American cultures
4 Musical AreasAnthropologists found that although there were 1,000 to 2,000 tribal groups, each with its own culture and language, they could be grouped into six to eight major culture areas distinguished by types of housing, religion, political structure, etc.Scholars of Native American music found that musical style areas coincided generally with these culture areas
5 Questions for Discussion Do you believe in a supernatural power or powers?Are some people more spiritual than others?
7 Questions for Discussion How do musicians compose music?How would you do it?
8 Music and the Supernatural Music has supernatural powers in many Native American traditionsAmong the Blackfoot, supernatural powers reside in songs and are activated when songs are sungSongs are not “composed” but given to humans by guardian spirits in dreams or visions
9 Music and the Supernatural They are thought to exist in the cosmosOnce they come into worldly existence, songs are associated with particular activitiesFor example, each object in a medicine bundle has its appropriate songA person who owns many songs is spiritually powerful
10 Questions for Discussion In your world, what is good music?When do you listen to or play music?
11 Music as a Reflection of Culture Music is measured by its ability to integrate society, ceremonies, and social eventsTechnical complexity is not a valid criterionFor the Blackfoot, the right way to do something is to sing the right song with itEvery activity has its appropriate song
12 Using Music to Construct Pre-History There is virtually no written information about the history of Native American musicat least until about a century agoVery little archaeological informationSongs consisting of short tunes with few pitches repeated or varied many times may be a remnant of a highly archaic stratum of human music
13 Intertribal StylesOlder intertribal styles include the Ghost Dance and Peyote cultIn recent years, the highly distinctive (and stereotypically “Indian”) Plains musical style has been adopted by tribes all over the countryThis applies to costume, tooNew ceremonies (e.g., Calgary Stampede), based on traditional midsummer religious ceremonies, are becoming more important as symbols of Pan-Indian identity
14 Sensitivity to Vocal Styles Does a vocal style sound tense/relaxed? Raspy/smooth? Nasal/round? Is the range wide/narrow? Is the contour of the melody descending? Undulating? Rising? Does it sound as though there is a text or just vocables (meaningless syllables)?
15 Questions for Discussion What words are they singing?What is the form or structure? Is there a pattern?
16 Blackfoot War or Grass Dance Song Plains styleAn example of “incomplete repetition” formThe singers set up a steady rhythm by beating on the edge of their bass drumThen, the drum’s leader sings a phrase in a falsetto voice, very tense, harsh, loud, and ornamented
17 Blackfoot War or Grass Dance Song The phrase is repeated by a second singer, and the whole group enters, singing a stately melody moving down the scaleRises again, coming to the end of the songRepeates the whole form several times
18 Blackfoot War or Grass Dance Song Note that the first two stanzas are sung and drummed softly, and the tempo, intensity, and loudness increase rapidlyThe song has no words, only vocables or meaningless syllables, but all of the singers sing these in unisonThe overall form of the song could be represented as A A B B, with B longer than A.B ends with a variation of A, an octave lower
19 Creek Stomp Dance Song Eastern Style A series of songs to accompany a line danceThe dance leader is the song leader, and the form is responsorialthe leader sings a short call or phrase, and the group responds by simply repeating what the leader has sung (A), or something to complete his phrase (B)This “call and response” is repeated a number of times, until a high-pitched call ends the song and a new one begins
20 Creek Stomp Dance SongOrdinarily the first song consists of call on one tone, the second expands the range, and others provide a slightly more complex melodyThe singers accompany themselves with rattlesIn form, melody, and rhythm the songs tend to become increasingly complexThe singers draw on a stock of traditional musical motifs whose content, variations, and order they improvise
21 Questions for Discussion Do you pray?If yes, what do you pray for?
22 Pawnee Ghost Dance Song: “The Yellow Star” Note that each melodic phrase is quite shortfor example, two repetitions of the “A” phrase take only about six seconds to performAA BB CC AA BBAA BB CC AA BB CC
23 Pawnee Ghost Dance Song: “The Yellow Star” Modern music history of Native Americans may be said to begin after the great tragedy of the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890Resulted in part because Sioux and Arapaho people had taken up the practice of the Ghost Dance religionThis messianic cult began in the Great Basin area (Utah and Nevada) and was taken up by the Plains tribes, who hoped that it would help them in combating and defeating the white people, bringing back the dead, and restoring the buffalo
24 Pawnee Ghost Dance Song: “The Yellow Star” As these Plains people learned the Ghost Dance ceremony, they learned its songsComposed in a simple style that also made them think of a simpler, better timeThis style of music, taken up by many tribes—thus, an intertribal style—was superimposed on the older song traditions
25 Kiowa Peyote Song: Opening Prayer Song and Sunrise Song You can identify a Peyote song by its words—or rather, “meaningless” vocables or syllables sequencesChristian texts in English are occasionally usedThe first example uses the syllables he-ne-ne-ne-ha-yo-wi-tsi-na-yoA line is repeated then replaced by another and finally a last one followed by the closing formula he-ne-yo-we
26 Kiowa Peyote Song: Opening Prayer Song and Sunrise Song The second track uses a different and more common composition techniqueA line of syllables and an associated rhythmic pattern is repeated but each time with a slightly different set of pitches, moving down the scalehe-yo-wa-ne-ne, ka-ya-ti-ni-ka-ya-ti-na-yoIt presents two stanzas (lines) of the song
27 Kiowa Peyote Song: Opening Prayer Song and Sunrise Song In the first, the initial phrase is sung only once, while the second gives it twice as is normalPossibly that was a result of the singer’s not having the song totally in mind when he beganSingers in oral traditions throughout the world sometimes begin with a deviation from the norm into which they finally settleThe syllables are a guide to the rhythmshorter notes/syllables are combined with hyphens
28 Two Modern Powwow Love Songs The powwow is an intertribal event that builds culture consciousness and sense of ethnic identityIt developed in the later half of the twentieth century and is based on Plains musicA part of the powwow repertory is the body of so-called 49er-songs, which may contain romantically hilarious words in English
29 Two Modern Powwow Love Songs Both of these songs alternate nonsense syllable verses with English language wordsThey are composed in a simple strophic formatAABC (first excerpt) or AABB’ (second excerpt)typical European song forms as well
30 Discussion QuestionsSince a musical system is a reflection of the rest of the culture, how is it so in Native American cultures?Since a musical system is a reflection of the rest of the culture, how is it so in African cultures?Since a musical system is a reflection of the rest of the culture, how is it so in Asian cultures?Since a musical system is a reflection of the rest of the culture, how is it so in American popular culture?
31 Discussion QuestionsHow are powwows perceived as the lasting of Native of American cultures on one hand, while perceived as a reflection of vanished cultures on the other?Will powwows ever be enough to totally bring back older Native American cultures, and how is this an adaptation to the outside social environment?