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Native - Song & Dance

United Indians of All Tribes Foundation drummers at the Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow, Daybreak Star Cultural Center, Seattle, Washington



American Indian music is the music 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, there now exist pan-tribal and inter-tribal genres as well as distinct Indian subgenres of popular music including: rock, blues, hip hop, classical, film music and reggae, as well as unique popular styles like waila ("chicken scratch").


Vocalization and percussion are the most important aspects of traditional Native American music. Vocalization takes many forms, ranging from solo and choral song to responsorial, unison and multipart singing. Percussion, especially drums and rattles, are common accompaniment to keep the rhythm steady for the singers, who generally use their native language or non-lexical vocables (nonsense syllables). Traditional music usually begins with slow and steady beats that grow gradually faster and more emphatic, while various flourishes like drum and rattle tremolos, shouts and accented patterns add variety and signal changes in performance for singers and dancers.[1]

[edit] Song texts and sources

Native American song texts include both public pieces and secret songs, said to be "ancient and unchanging", which are used only for sacred and ceremonial purposes. There are also public sacred songs, as well as ritual speeches that are sometimes perceived as musical because of their use of rhythm and melody. These ritual speeches often directly describe the events of a ceremony, and the reasons and ramifications of the night.[2]

Vocables, or lexically meaningless syllables, are a common part of many kinds of Native American songs. They frequently mark the beginning and end of phrases, sections or songs themselves. Often songs make frequent use of vocables and other untranslatable elements. Songs that are translatable include historical songs, like the Navajo "Shi' naasha', which celebrates the end of Navajo internment in Fort Sumner, New Mexico in 1868. Tribal flag songs and national anthems are also a major part of the Native American musical corpus, and are a frequent starter to public ceremonies, especially powwows. Native American music also includes a range of courtship songs, dancing songs and popular American or Canadian tunes like "Amazing Grace, "Dixie", "Jambalaya" and "Sugar Time". Many songs celebrate harvest, planting season or other important times of year.[2]

Source: Wikipedia, Link