MUSI 207Native American Music Chapter 11
Native American Music Caribbean cont. (depending on time) Chapter Presentation Musical Areas Music and the Supernatural Music as a Reflection of Culture Using Music to Construct Pre-History Intertribal Styles
Musical Areas Localized Native American (American Indian) music is classified by stylistic features characterizing geographical areas. The 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.
Musical Areas cont. Anthropologists 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.
Music and the Supernatural Music has supernatural powers in many Native American traditions. Among the Blackfeet, supernatural powers reside in songs and are activated when songs are sung. Songs are not “composed” but given to humans by guardian spirits in dreams or visions.
Music and the Supernatural cont. They are thought to exist in the cosmos. Once they come into worldly existence, songs are associated with particular activities: for example, each object in a medicine bundle has its appropriate song. A person who owns many songs is spiritually powerful.
Music as a Reflection of Culture Music is measured by its ability to integrate society, ceremonies, and social events. Technical complexity is not a valid criterion. For the Blackfeet, “the right way to do something is to sing the right song with it.” Every activity has its appropriate song.
Using Music to Construct Pre-History There is virtually no written information about the history of Native American music (at least until about a century ago) and little archaeological information. Songs (e.g., gambling songs) consisting of short tunes with few pitches repeated or varied many times may be a remnant of a highly archaic stratum of human music.
Intertribal Styles Older intertribal styles include the Ghost Dance and Peyote cult. In recent years, the highly distinctive (and stereotypically “Indian”) Plains musical style has been adopted by tribes all over the country. This applies to costume, too. New ceremonies (e.g., North American Indian Days), based on traditional midsummer religious ceremonies, are becoming more important as symbols of Pan-Indian identity.
For next class Chapter Exam 11 is due Friday Comment on the D2L PowerPoint presentations (starting to run out of time to do this well) Read Chapter 12 (pgs. 384-401) on Ethnic North Americanmusic