Native American Music

Music plays an integral role in the life of Native Americans. It is used for ceremonial purposes, recreation, expression, and healing. There are many different instruments used when making Native American music, including drums, flutes, and other percussion instruments. Perhaps the most important element of their music is the voice.

Vocals are the backbone of the music made in Native American cultures. Unusual, irregular rhythms and a somewhat off-key style of singing is used. No harmony is ever incorporated, although sometimes many people sing at once, and other times the vocals are solo. The Native American vocals are passionate, used to invoke spirits, ask for rain or healing, or are used to heal the sick. In most cases, the men and women of the tribes sing separate songs, and have their own dances. The men typically dance around in a circle, while the women usually dance in place.



Many researchers feel that Native American music is some of the most complex ever performed. The tensing and releasing of the vocals combined with varying drum beats makes it a very intricate form of art. Another interesting item of note is that every region of the country where the Native Americans had settled produced greatly varying forms and sounds of music. With so many different tribes, the music produced is always unique to its specific group. Generally, Eskimo music has been touted as being the most simple of all of the Native American music styles, while the Hopi, Pueblo, and Zuni tribes of the Southwestern part of the country have been known to produce much more complex sounding music. The emotion invoked from Native American music has been a great influence in modern folk music. In addition, tribal music is still very popular among music fans, and Native American CDs sell fairly well, even in today’s modern climate.

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