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Chapter 11 By: Hannah Gregor Native American Music.

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1 Chapter 11 By: Hannah Gregor Native American Music

2 Ceremonial Native American Traditions Societies Songs in Native American culture are very short, like a nursery rhyme or hymn In ceremonies, songs are placed in large groups to perform Religious ceremonies last hours, or even days Example: Yeibechi (“Night Chant”)of the Navajo requires nine days and nights to perform Even in secular performances, songs are grouped together to perform Example: performance of Stomp Dance Past Each tribe had its own musical culture, repertory, musical style, uses of, and ideas about music 1,000-2,000 individual tribes in North America, each with a distinct language Present Some tribes still maintain their individuality Others have been forced to share reservations with other tribes, and have developed a unified culture Some ceremonies are intertribal Most Native Americans have conformed, but in music and dance, they express their roots and culture

3 Native American Music Similarities Native American music is almost always monophonic and mostly vocal There are many distinct vocal styles, but they all share a tense sound and the pulsation on longer notes Three types of forms dominate Strophic songs – like folk songs or hymns, a stanza is repeated many times Very short songs consisting of one or two lines repeated many times Two contrasting sections alternate Almost all singing is accompanied by percussion Differences Each tribal group has its own unique repertory, and musical style Even neighboring tribes differ from each other Seven music areas Plains Eastern United States Yuman (Southwest United States and parts of Southern California) Athabascan (Navajo/Apache, also Southwestern US) Pueblo (Papago, Southwestern US) Great Basin (Nevada and Utah) Northwestern Coast (Washington, Oregon, and parts of Alaska)

4 Ideas About Music What is it and what does it do? Why are the songs so short? Oral traditions make it difficult to pass on complex compositions If you listen carefully, the music is complex on a microscopic scale Native American music is judged using different values than Western music Music has supernatural power in Native American cultures, so every ceremony has an appropriate song Songs that come in dreams have special power Music reflects culture A Blackfoot singer said, “The right way to do something is to sing the right song with it.” Women had a smaller and separate repertory, but may join in men’s songs Women have a different singing style – more nasal and smoother with pulsations being ornaments rather than rhythmic references

5 Musical Instruments and Singing Most music is vocal and almost all instruments are percussive (idiophones) Most music is vocal and almost all instruments are percussive (idiophones) Solo drumming is rare Solo drumming is rare Most widely used melodic instrument is the flute Most widely used melodic instrument is the flute Some reeds and trumpets are used on the North Pacific Coast Some reeds and trumpets are used on the North Pacific Coast The musical bow is similar to a hunting bow but is used as a musical instrument The musical bow is similar to a hunting bow but is used as a musical instrument Songs do not necessarily have words nor do need to be elaborate Songs do not necessarily have words nor do need to be elaborate COMPLETE texts of two Blackfoot songs: COMPLETE texts of two Blackfoot songs: “Sun says to sing” – from Song of the Sun Dance ceremony “Sun says to sing” – from Song of the Sun Dance ceremony “It is spring, let others see you” – sung at the beginning of a medicine bundle opening ceremony, prior to the bundle being opened “It is spring, let others see you” – sung at the beginning of a medicine bundle opening ceremony, prior to the bundle being opened

6 Native American Musical History Little direct evidence, but circumstantial information allow reasonable deductions Little direct evidence, but circumstantial information allow reasonable deductions Since Native American music shares traits with Asian music, scholars deduce that Native Americans arrived from Asia in waves beginning at least 14,000 years ago Since Native American music shares traits with Asian music, scholars deduce that Native Americans arrived from Asia in waves beginning at least 14,000 years ago South American and North American Native American music share some aspects, but differ in others South American and North American Native American music share some aspects, but differ in others Shared: forms and singing styles are similar, as are ideas about music Shared: forms and singing styles are similar, as are ideas about music Different: in South American Native American culture, women participate more heavily than in North American, as well as more instrumental music Different: in South American Native American culture, women participate more heavily than in North American, as well as more instrumental music

7 Native American Music in the Present Since the coming of white people, Native American musical culture has been greatly reduced Since the coming of white people, Native American musical culture has been greatly reduced As Native Americans were relocated and epidemics swept through their populations, most ceremonies and songs were lost As Native Americans were relocated and epidemics swept through their populations, most ceremonies and songs were lost Some Native Americans adopted the idea that music is composed by humans and are not supernatural, and the idea of music as entertainment was accepted Some Native Americans adopted the idea that music is composed by humans and are not supernatural, and the idea of music as entertainment was accepted Other Native Americans began to use music to fight against the oppression and to preserve their culture Other Native Americans began to use music to fight against the oppression and to preserve their culture The Ghost Dance songs enriched the Plains Indians’ music The Ghost Dance songs enriched the Plains Indians’ music The songs of the peyote religion (peyote is a drug from cacti) are easily recognized and aspects of the music have come from different tribes The songs of the peyote religion (peyote is a drug from cacti) are easily recognized and aspects of the music have come from different tribes There are Christian hymnals with Christian songs in the traditional Native American style There are Christian hymnals with Christian songs in the traditional Native American style Powwow style music began in the late 20 th century from Plains music and traditions Powwow style music began in the late 20 th century from Plains music and traditions Part of the powwow repertory are 49 songs with mildly amusing and romantic English lyrics Part of the powwow repertory are 49 songs with mildly amusing and romantic English lyrics

8 Women in Native American Music Women’s roles in music differed from tribe to tribe Women’s roles in music differed from tribe to tribe In some tribes, women were not permitted to sing in public In others, women played important roles in ceremonies Women often know the music repertory better than men Women often know the music repertory better than men Women have become more prominent in Native American musical culture Women have become more prominent in Native American musical culture

9 Native American Popular Music “Indian rock music” genre combines Native American traditional tunes, percussive sounds, and texts from or referring to Native American culture “Indian rock music” genre combines Native American traditional tunes, percussive sounds, and texts from or referring to Native American culture Some Native American artists performed Western music that discussed Native American issues Some Native American artists performed Western music that discussed Native American issues Most of the modern Native American popular music speaks to environmental issues due to the fact that their land is threatened by pollution, factories, mining, etc. Most of the modern Native American popular music speaks to environmental issues due to the fact that their land is threatened by pollution, factories, mining, etc. Much of the Native American popular music does not differ in sound from Western popular music, but instead deals with issues faced by Native Americans Much of the Native American popular music does not differ in sound from Western popular music, but instead deals with issues faced by Native Americans


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