Published on August 23, 2011 by Amy
Traditional Indian songs are steeped in the culture of the natives of North America. If you want to know the history, mythology and legends of the Native Americans, all you have to do listen to the Indian songs of the various cultures.
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For the most part, Indian songs are one melody only, no harmonies or multiple parts. These Indian songs are recognized by their uneven rhythms and lack of instrumentation other than tribal or ceremonial drums. That is not to say there are no other instruments allowed. Occasionally you will hear rattles, rain sticks and even wind instruments like the flute or whistle. Many times these instrumental accompaniments are made from natural materials like wood or bone.
Indian songs often feature a distinct sound in which the voice is manipulated through the tensing of throat muscles. This allows for more forceful accents on certain words and sometimes sounds guttural or like a chant. And while some Indian songs are like a chorus with varying vocal levels, the majority of them are in unison.
For Native Americans, their Indian songs are mainly performed for large ceremonies and serve a particular purpose. For instance, if they need rain for their crops, they perform a traditional Indian song that pleads to the gods for rain. There are also Indian songs that act out scenes from mythology or those that tell a story from Native American history. You can say that the history of the Native American people is literally in their Indian songs.
In many areas of the country where there are Native American communities and reservations, ceremonies are still performed complete with Indian songs. These ceremonies are often put on for the public to education them on the history of their people. These ceremonies are called pow-wows and feature tribal drums, dancing and lots of singing of Indian songs in the native tongue. Without the Native Americans of today carrying on the tradition of singing these Indian songs, we would lose sight of the wonderful heritage of our country.