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Music of the First Nations

Music of the First Nations: Tradition and Innovation in Native North America

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Music of the First Nations
    Book Description:

    This unique anthology presents a wide variety of approaches to an ethnomusicology of Inuit and Native North American musical expression. Contributors include Native and non-Native scholars who provide erudite and illuminating perspectives on aboriginal culture, incorporating both traditional practices and contemporary musical influences. The collection covers both tribe-specific musical practices and Pan-Indian topics such as pow-wows and country music, and it demonstrates the many ways of doing contemporary ethnomusicology in Indian country, including dialogic, historiographic, fieldwork based, linguistic, and interpretive methods._x000B__x000B_Gathering scholarship on a realm of intense interest but little previous publication, this volume promises to revitalize the study of Native music in North America, an area of ethnomusicology that stands to benefit greatly from these scholars' cooperative, community-oriented methods._x000B__x000B_Contributors are T. Christopher Aplin, Tara Browner, Paula Conlon, David E. Draper, Elaine Keillor, Lucy Lafferty, Franziska von Rosen, David W. Samuels, Laurel Sercombe, and Judith Vander.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09065-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[x])
  3. Introduction: Studying First Nations and Inuit Music
    (pp. 1-6)

    In countless ways, the study of North American indigenous musical cultures by Westerners has been a crucial element in establishing ethnomusicology as a discipline distinct from historical musicology. Early ethnologists such as Alice Fletcher, Francis Densmore, James Mooney, and Jesse Walker Fewkes laid the foundations for studying music in its cultural context, with Fewkes making the first known field recordings in 1889. Theodore Baker’sÜber die Musik der nordamerikanischen Wilden(On the Music of the North American Savages), written in 1881 for the University of Leipzig and published in 1882, is probably the first dissertation on an ethnomusicological topic. And...

  4. 1 Iglulik Inuit Drum-Dance Songs
    (pp. 7-20)

    This article discusses the traditional musical style that dominates the Inuit from the Arctic East to West: the drum-dance song, orpisiq(pluralpisiit).¹ The syllabica-ya-ya,which appears in the text of drum-dance songs from Alaska to Greenland, is used today to designate the whole of the song as well. The 315 drum-dance songs that provide the basis for this study are from the Iglulik Inuit area of northern Baffin Island. The songs were collected from the following hamlets: Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet) (collected by Jean-Jacques Nattiez in 1976 and 1977), Igloolik (Nattiez in 1977), and Ikpiarjuk (Arctic Bay) (Lorne...

  5. 2 Musical Expressions of the Dene: Dogrib Love and Land Songs
    (pp. 21-33)

    The respected Sahtú Dene elder George Blondin concludes his book of stories by stating, “The important values of Dene—respect for the land and respect for one another—will endure, both here in Denendeh and all over the world” (1990: 246). Those primary values are reinforced within Dene society by means of certain songs that can be called in English “land songs” and “love songs.” To understand how these songs reinforce a Dene’s personal relationship within the terrain of Denendeh and one’s personal relationship within the community, ethnographic and historical documentation of the land, now usually referred to as Denendeh,...

  6. 3 The story of Dirty Face: Power and Song in Western Washington Coast Salish Myth Narratives
    (pp. 34-53)

    Stories and songs have been part of the rich cultural life of Pacific Northwest indigenous communities for many generations. Storytellers in traditional and contemporary contexts entertain and instruct both children and adults by evoking a lively world of characters, places, and events. Their narratives tell the history of a people, demonstrate cultural values and concepts of humor and beauty, and transmit important spiritual information.

    Among the Coast Salish people of western Washington State, the formal telling of myth narratives was traditionally a seasonal event, taking place mainly in the winter months. The disruption of lifeways caused by white settlement in...

  7. 4 Drum, Songs, Vibrations: Conversations with a Passamaquoddy Traditional Singer
    (pp. 54-66)

    The Passamaquoddy(Peskotomuhkati)and Maliseet(Wolastoqiyik)are closely related but politically independent peoples who share very similar languages. They are historically part of the Wabanaki Alliance together with the Abenaki, Penobscot, and Mi’kmaq nations. These tribal nations straddle the national borders of the United States and Canada, in areas now called Maine and the Canadian Maritimes (New Brunswick and parts of Quebec). Prior to contact with Europeans, their traditional cultures revolved around fishing and farming during the summer and hunting in the winter months.

    Wabanaki populations were decimated during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by smallpox and other diseases brought...

  8. 5 Identity, Retention, and Survival: Contexts for the Performance of Native Choctaw Music
    (pp. 67-91)

    As the current revival of interest in American Indian music expands our knowledge about expressive behavior in contemporary Native American societies, music is being recognized by more and more researchers as a viable part of tribal cultures. Because of this increase in scholarly attention, brought about in many cases by the recent social and economic progress of indigenous groups, we are gaining new information about aesthetics, ideology, and symbolic behavior, among other possibilities. With this expansion of existing knowledge base, we may also expect a reexamination of previous research. Thus, we have an opportunity to reconsider and improve the quality...

  9. 6 “This Is our Dance”: The Fire Dance of the Fort Sill Chiricahua Warm Springs Apache
    (pp. 92-112)

    The Fort Sill Chiricahua Warm Springs Apache are their Fire Dance. That is to say, the dance represents them as a collective people because it bears the marks of their culture, history, and identity. The Fire Dance expresses their religious outlook while simultaneously celebrating their exuberance and joy in simply living. It is sacred and social, reverent and bawdy, feast and fellowship, athletic and poetic, men and women, humor and beauty. A study of this ceremony reveals the process of change that has shaped the character of the modern Fort Sill Apache tribe and its members. Like the Apache themselves,...

  10. 7 The Creative Power and Style of Ghost Dance Songs
    (pp. 113-130)

    The 1890 Ghost Dance, a religious movement originating among the Northern Paiute in Nevada, quickly spread eastward to many tribes on the northern and southern plains. It is easy to imagine the appeal of the religion and its prophecy—destruction of the present world, resurrection of the dead, and immortality in a pristine new world to come—to tribal groups who had been relocated, dislocated, and decimated by illness and warfare. The religion called on its adherents to live peacefully and honestly, and had as its centerpiece the communal performance of song and dance. This was the heart of the...

  11. 8 An Acoustic Geography of Intertribal Pow-wow Songs
    (pp. 131-140)

    At modern-day intertribal pow-wows, there are two distinctive regional singing styles commonly referred to by participants and observers as “Northern” and “Southern.” Of the two, Southern singing, the conventional style of Oklahoma, is the most similar to the traditional performance practices of Omaha/PoncaHeluskasongs—the songs ancestral in some way to almost modern pow-wow songs because of their influences on formal song structure. Northern style, having been strongly influenced by Warrior Society songs of the northern plains and Great Lakes regions, predominates from the midplains northward, and its performance locales include the territories surrounding the Great Lakes and Pacific...

  12. 9 Singing Indian Country
    (pp. 141-160)

    In the song “Indian Cowboy,” Midnite Ethelbah, lead singer of the band Apache Spirit, delivers one of the more famous lines in contemporary Native American country music: “I don’t know how it happened, but I’m feeling kind of glad / I’m an Indian cowboy, and being both can’t be so bad.”¹ The rhythm of the couplet’s second line is perfectly timed to coincide with the chorus’s V-I, E-to-A musical resolution, along with the bass line that walks up to the signature guitar riff that frames each of the song’s verses. It is the kind of seamless blending of country-andwestern form...

  13. List of Contributors
    (pp. 161-164)
  14. Index
    (pp. 165-166)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 167-174)