Folk Music in The United States


Home Main Menu | Singing & playing Contents Page | <Previous Next> Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

36                 An Introduction to Folk Music in the United States

acteristic feature is the call-and-response pattern, performed by a leader and a chorus, in the social dance-songs. There are many other regional peculiarities; the picture as a whole evokes amazement at the creative genius of a people so small in number and with so simple a culture.

Just as there were areas in aboriginal North America which were characterized by a certain kind of culture, there were musical areas.'^ And these tend to coincide faii'ly well with the cultural ones, a fact which again demonstrates the close relationship between music and other activities of Indian life. We find also that in those areas in which the culture was especially complex, such as the Pueblos, the Northwest Coast, and the Gulf of Mexico, there also developed a more complex and varied musical style, and the invention of new stylistic elements, such as part-singing, rounds, and melodies of special length, occurred in these areas of complexity.

The coming of the white man had a considerable effect on the music of the Indians, just as it influenced all aspects of their culture. The whites brought on the second stage of American Indian music history, the acculturational one. It might be expected that a mixture of styles, partly European and partly Indian, would have developed in Indian music as it occurred in some parts of Africa. However, the differences between the European and Indian styles were evidently so great that in only a few isolated instances was such a mixture achieved. Indians today participate in two bodies of music, their old heritage and the white man's, but the two are not mixed to any great extent. The English language has made inroads; today, many songs in the old Indian musical styles have English words, such as the Blackfoot song in Example 23: "If you wait for me after the dance is over, I will take you home in my purchased wagon."

The white influence has made itself felt primarily by causing the Indians to unite, to lay down some of their tribal differences and to present a single cultural front to contrast with Western civilization. This was not done systematically and with political purposes. It is partially a result of the rapid and widespread migrations of many Indian tribes under white pressure, and of the

Previous Contents Next