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Native American Music

Music History Project that deals with the culture, history and music of the Native Americans

Hannah Byford

on 27 April 2011

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Transcript of Native American Music

Native American Traditional Music Native American Indian music is an art form whose medium is sound. Common elements of music are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sound qualities of timbre and texture that is used, created or performed by Native North Americans, specifically traditional tribal music. In addition to the traditional music of the Native American groups, now existing pan-tribal and inter-tribal genres as well as distinct Indian subgenres of popular music popular music popular music belongs to any of a number of musical genres "having wide appeal" and is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional music, which are typically performed academically or orally to smaller, local commmunities. What is Native
Music? History Music and history are tightly interwoven in Native American life.
A tribe's history is constantly told and retold through music,
which keeps
alive an oral narrative of history. These historical narratives vary
widely from tribe to tribe, and are an integral part of tribal identity. However, their historical authenticity cannot be verified; aside from supporstition and some archaeological evidence, the earliest documentation of Native American music came with the arrival of European explorers. Musical instruments and pictographs
depicting music and dance have been dated as far back as
the 7th century. Societal Role of Music Native American music plays a vital role in history and education, with ceremonies and stories orally passing on ancestral customs to new generations.
Native American ceremonial music is traditionally said to originate from deities or spirits, or from particularly respected individuals. Rituals are shaped by every aspect of song, dance and costuming, and each aspect informs about the "makers, wearers and symbols important to the nation, tribe, village, clan, family, or individual". Native Americans perform stories through song, music and dance, and the historical facts thus propagated are an integral part of Native American beliefs. Epic legends and stories about culture heroes are a part of tribal music traditions, and these tales are often an iconic part of local culture.
They can vary slightly from year to year, with leaders recombining and introducing slight variations (musical expression). Hopi War Dance Musical Context The styles and purposes of music vary greatly between and among each Native American tribe. However, a common concept amongst many indigenous groups is a conflation of music and power.
For example, the Pima are a group of American Indians living in an area consisting of what is now central and southern Arizona and Sonora .
They feel many of their songs were given in the beginning and sung by the Creator. It was believed that some people then have more of an inclination to musical talent than others because of an individual's peculiar power. Within various Native American communities, gender plays an important role in music. Men and women play sex-specific roles in many musical activities. Instruments, songs and dances are often peculiar to one or the other sex, and many musical settings are strictly controlled by sex. In modern powwows, women play a vital role as backup singers and dancers.
For the Southern Plains Indians, it is believed that the first drum was given to a woman by the Great Spirit, who instructed her to share it with all women of native nations. Southwest Musicality Native Americans of the Southwestern United States is a region defined in different ways by different sources. Broad definitions include nearly a quarter of the United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.
The Indians in this area were limited to idiophones and aerophones as mediums to sound production beginning date in the seventh century. The applicable idiophones included: plank resonators, foot drums, percussion stones, shaken idiophones, vessel rattles, and copper and clay bells. The applicable aerophones included bull roarers, decomposable whistles and flutes, clay resonator whistles, shell trumpets and prehistoric reed instruments. The wood flute was of particular significance. Between A.D. 600 and 1000, gourd and turtle shell rattles and possibly early forms of the foot drum appear. It is suggested that after A.D. 1000, a northward flow of appropriation, assimilation and innovation of Mexican and border-area instruments occurs.
Eastern Woodlands Musicality Inhabiting a wide swath of the United States of America and Canada.
Eastern Woodlands natives can be distinguished by antiphon (call and response
style singing), which does not occur in other areas. Their territory includes Maritime Canada, New England
U.S. Mid-Atlantic
Great Lakes and Southeast regions.
Songs are rhythmically complex, characterized by frequent metric changes and a close relationship to ritual dance. Flutes and whistles are solo instruments, and a wide variety of drums, rattles and striking sticks are played.
The characteristics of this entire area include short iterative phrases, reverting relationships, shouts before, during, and after singing, anhematonic pentatonic scales, simple rhythms and meter and, according to Nettl, antiphonal or responsorial techniques including "rudimentary imitative polyphony". Melodic movement tends to be gradually descending throughout the area and vocals include a moderate amount of tension and pulsation.
Traditional Cherokee Corn Dance Plains Musicality Extending across the American Midwest into Canada, Plains-area music is nasal, with high pitches and frequent falsettos, with a terraced descent (a step-by-step descent down an octave) in an unblended monophony. strophes and use of incomplete repetition.
Large double-sided skin drums are characteristic of the Plains tribes, and solo end-blown flutes (flageolet) are also common.
This area's music is characterized by extreme vocal tension, pulsation, melodic preference for perfect fourths and a range averring a tenth, rhythmic complexity, and increased frequence of tetratonic scales. The musics of the Arapaho and Cheyenne intensify these characteristics, while the northern tribes, especially Blackfoot music., feature simpler material, smaller melodic ranges, and fewer scale tones.

Traditional Dakota Sun Dance Great Basin Musicality Music of the Great Basin is simple, discreet and ornate, characterized by short melodies with a range smaller than an octave, moderately-blended monophony, relaxed and open vocals and, most unusually, paired-phrase structure, in which a melodic phrases, repeated twice, is alternated with one to two additional phrases. A song of this type might be diagrammed as follows: AA BB CC AA BB CC, etc.
The music of the sparesly settled Great Basin, including most of desert Utah and Nevada (Paiute, Ute, Shoshoni) and some of southern Oregon (Modoc and Klamath), as "extremely simple," featuring melodic ranges averaging just over a perfect fifth, many tetratonic scales, and short forms. The majority of songs are iterative with each phrase repeated once, though occasional songs with multiple repetitions are found. Many Modoc and Klamath songs contain only one repeated phrase and many of their scales only two to three notes (ditonic or tritonic). This style was carried to the Great Plains by the Ghost Dance religion which originated among the Paiute, and very frequently features paired-phrase patterns and a relaxed nonpulsating vocal style. Paiute Native American shaman Wovoka and the Ghost Dance Native American Flute The Native American flute has achieved some measure of fame for its distinctive sound, used in a variety of New Age
and world music recordings. Its music was used in courtship, healing, meditation, and spiritual rituals.
The Native American flute is the only flute in the world constructed with two air chambers - there is a wall inside the flute between the top (slow) air chamber and the bottom chamber which has the whistle and finger holes. The top chamber also serves as a secondary resonator, which gives the flute its distinctive sound. There is a hole at the bottom of the "slow" air chamber and a (generally) square hole at the top of the playing chamber. A block (or "bird") with a spacer is tied on top of the flute to form a thin, flat airstream for the whistle hole (or "window"). Some more modern flutes use an undercut either in the block or the flute to eliminate the need for a spacer.

The "traditional" Native American flute was constructed using bread based on the body - the length of the flute would be the distance from armpit to wrist, the length of the top air chamber would be one fist-width, the distance from the whistle to the first hole also a fist-width, the distance between holes would be one thumb-width, and the distance from the last hole to the end would generally be one fist-width. Unlike Western music, traditional American Indian music had no standard pitch reference, such as A440, so flutes were not standardized for pitch.
Native American flutes most commonly have either 5 or 6 holes, but instruments can have anything from no holes to seven (including a thumb hole). Various makers employ different scales and fingerings for their flutes.
Some modern Native American flutes are called "drone" flutes, and are two (or more) flutes built together. Generally, the drone chamber plays a fixed note which the other flute can play against in harmony.
Native American Drums Different tribes have different traditions about their drums and how to play them. For larger dance or powwow type drums, the basic construction is very similar in most tribes: a wooden frame or a carved and hollowed-out log, with rawhide buckskin or elk skin stretched out across the opening by sinew thongs.
Traditionally American Indian drums are large, two to three feet in diameter, and they are played communally by groups of singers who sit around them in a circle. For smaller single-sided hand drums, a thinner frame or shell is used, and a rawhide surface is strung onto only one side, with lacing across the other. Other types include two basic styles of water drums: the Iroquois type and the Yaqui type.
The Iroquois water drum is a small cup-shaped wooden vessel, with water inside it, and a moistened tanned hide stretched across the top opening; the wetness and tightness of the tanned hide produce changes in pitch as the water drum is played over time.
The Yaqui type of water drum is actually a half gourd, large in size, that floats in a tub of water like a bubble on the surface; the outer round surface of the gourd is struck with a drum stick, and the vibrations are amplified using the tub of water as a resonator.

Another type of drum called a foot drumFoot drumA foot drum is any type of drum that is typically played by striking it with the bare foot or pedal and beater combination. The most common types of foot drums
have been found in several southwestern and central-Californian US Native American archaeological sites inhabited, or formally inhabited, by the Miwok, Maidu, Aztec, and Hopi Indian tribes. These drums were often semicircle cross-sectioned hollow logs laid over wood covered 'resonating' pits positioned according to custom in kivas or dance houses. The foot drums were played by stomping on top of the hollow log with the structure's poles used for steadying. Hoops Drums
These are perfect for healing, and are used in drum circles in both, the personal and the ceremonial rituals. Hoops drums are mostly handheld and the bigger their diameters, the deeper are the tones produced. In the native American culture the drums are very artistically painted and exquisitely hand made, by using buffalo hide, goat skin and other natural materials.

Shamanic Drums
Shamanism is a set of practices, that pertain to the communication with the world of 'spirits'. There are specific drums used for rituals performed by shamans, by those who practice shamanism. Under those who practice shamanism, there is a North America tribe, called the Lakota. Infact, there is a type of drum called the Lakota drum, which is named after this tribe. It is believed that drums help the shamans to achieve an altered state of consciousness. It is crucial to the extent that it is often called as the rainbow bridge to another world. A typical shaman drum has a metallic object hanging inside, held into its place by a wooden cross-piece. That cross piece may also rattle and is played using a special beater. A portable drum suits shamanic rituals the best, as it is accompanied by a lot of actions and performance.

Pow Wow Drums
The pow wow is basically a very important ritual amongst the Native Americans. The pow wow is a big event and pertains to a gathering of the native Americans. There is a proper drumming group for a pow wow, with a host drum and other side drums. Host drums form the base of the songs. Then, there is a host northern and host southern drum. A pow wow drum is a big drum made of buffalo, deer or cow hide. It is usually played together, by eight men.

Tom Tom Drums
Tom tom drums are referred to as any hand held, small headed drums, which are normally long and narrow. They are not beaten with drumsticks, but are played by hands. It is a cylindrical drum with no snare at all.

Water Drums
Then there are the water drums, which are cup shaped wooden vessels, with water inside them. There are two types of water drums, namely the yaqui and the iroquois.
THE END 1492: European Exploration
16th-19th century: Disease Epidemics
16th Century: Horses Introduced (propels the Great Plains indians)
1754-1763: French and Indian War (Indians lost)
Treay of Paris (1783): Succeed Native American land the U.S leading to the Northwest Indian War
Late 18th Century: Assimilation; civil indians
June 2, 1924: Indian Citizenship Act
1840's: Manifest Destiny (move Westward)
1876: Battle of Little Big Horn (one of the greatest Native American victories
WWII: Exposed the Indians to the outside world
1975: Indian Self-Determination Act
Septemeber 13, 2007: UN adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenious Peoples
Full transcript