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MUSIC IN INDIAN LIFE
the Indian, when he sings, is not concerned with the making of a musical presentation to his audi­ence. He is simply pouring out his feelings, regardless of artistic effects. To him music is sub­jective : it is the vehicle of communication between him and the object of his desire.
Certain peculiarities in the Indian's mode of singing make it difficult for one of our race to in­telligently hear their songs or to truthfully tran­scribe them.
There is no uniform key for any given song, for the Indians have no mechanical device for determin­ing pitch to create a standard by which to train the ear. This, however, does not affect the song; for, whatever the starting note, the intervals bear the same relation to each other, so that the melody itself suffers no change with the change of pitch.
Again, the continual slurring of the voice from one tone to another produces upon us the impression of out-of-tune singing. Then, the custom of sing­ing out of doors, to the accompaniment of the drum, and against the various noises of the camp, and the ever-restless wind, tending to strain the voice and robbing it of sweetness, increases the difficulty of distinguishing the music concealed within the
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III