Native American Music

Native American Music

Native American music continues to hold sway over a number of music enthusiasts today. Even in today’s world of mainstream music madness, Native American music and native chants are still in demand by a large section of society. This music has played an important role in Native American life as it is used in rituals and as a way of telling stories which are passed down from generation to generation. In this way, the music is also an important tool used in preserving a tribe’s heritage.

Native American music covers an incredibly broad span of styles, each one being unique to a particular tribe. While some tribes had incredibly complex music styles, others were simpler. Today, a number of musicians such as R. Carlos Nakai use these traditional sounds in modern music.

Voices and Drums

Native American music consists of vocals and instruments such as drums, whistles and flutes. The vocals are unique in that they are slightly off-key and are usually solo pieces, though many people may sing these pieces at once. There is no harmony though there are multipart vocals as well as responsorial singing. The songs that are sung are either secret songs used for ceremonial purposes or public pieces, which may tell a story.

Flutes made of either wood or bones are also used in Native American music, though they are not tuned in a specific way. The drums are played in a distinct manner, with varying drumbeats weaving in with the vocals. This specialized way of performing has made many experts conclude that Native American music is an incredibly complex form of music. In particular, the Hopi, Zuni and Pueblo tribes are said to have the most complex forms of music. Powwows are special meetings that are held in which different tribes come together to sing and dance. The biggest gathering today is the Gathering of Nations that takes place every year in New Mexico.