Folk Music in The United States


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34                 An Introduction to Folk Music in the United States

tions in the words. While this is a hard question to answer because informants do not ordinarily verbalize on the subject and, indeed, seem to believe it is irrelevant, it can be said that musical representation of a text does not ordinarily take place, and only a few isolated, even questionable, examples can be found. The closest thing to tone-painting yet found is the imitation of bird or animal calls in the songs. Sometimes these calls precede or follow a song, without forming a structural part of the music; these calls cannot be considered here. But occasionally the animal or bird call is obviously integrated into the song, fitting into the structure of its melody and rhythm. This is the case in a Shawnee song about the turkey, in which the last syllables, "tak tak tak," are said to be imitative of the call of the turkey.^^

The influence of pitch patterns in language over those in music is relevant at this point. A number of Indian languages of the United States are tone languages. In an excellent study of the Navaho, Herzog^^ indicates that sometimes the pitch movement in the language influences the music while at other times the musical currents contravene the language. Of course it is theoretically possible for the words in a song to be misunderstood because their tone sequence is not paralleled by the music, but this rarely happens because the words are usually understood in their context. Arapaho is also a tone language, with two tones; and I have reported and described elsewhere results similar to those found for the Navaho.^^

Most North American Indian instruments are of the percussion type: drums, rattles, notched sticks. There are some flutes, usually end-blown, like whistles and recorders. They are used to perform love songs which may be sung as well as played, so there is no special instrumental repertory. Practically all Indian music is strictly melodic (monophonic). There is no part-singing except in a few spots where local developments have taken place. There is no accompaniment except for the percussion, and only one pitch is heard at one time. Most Indian songs use a system of pitches which is more restricted than that of Western civilization and which is not too different from that of the other folk songs in America. But often the Indian pitches do not coincide

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