The music of native america

Essay by zigCollege, UndergraduateA-, May 2004

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"The Music of the Native American,"

Charles Hamm in Music in the World

N.Y. w.w. Norton & Co. 1983 pps. 3-23

It is very hard to collect an overall idea of what the music of the Native American is due to such a large time span and the vast number of small tribes spread throughout North America. Each tribe was exceptionally different and had its own language and ways. Another problem was that no tribe ever recorded their music on paper, which adds to the mystery of their music. The only sources documented are from the Europeans and what they saw when coming to this new world. The sources are mainly observations and opinions from a person who knew nothing at all about the people.

        Native American music is unique in its own way. Almost never did their music have two notes sounding at the same time. Singing and chanting in harmony by a number of voices was a strong aspect of their music.

The music generally consisted of short melodic phrases repeated at the same pitch and were accompanied by a drone note. Occasionally, there are variations in the pitch and instrumentation but usually the song continuously repeated.

        The musical instruments ranged from various rattles, sticks, drums, whistles, and flutes. Generally, flutes and whistles were not accompanied and were used for solos. The sections of Indian music are very repetitious and repeat until the ritual or ceremony is over. Sometimes the ceremony would last for several days with the performers never stopping for any reason.

        The music known to a tribe never had a composer or accredited member to which it belonged. The music either came to a member of the tribe in a dream from a higher being or was traditional music of the tribe. The meaning of...