Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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Finally we must mention two types of songs recognized as sepa­rate types by the Arapaho and by other Plains tribes, the Peyote and Ghost Dance songs. The Ghost Dance is a religion that was intro­duced in the 1880's by tribes further west, in the Great Basin of Nevada; it was a cult, outlawed by the U.S.A. in 1891, which preached war and annihilation to the encroaching whites, a last-ditch stand against the inevitable. The Ghost Dance movement brought with it, from the Great Basin, a musical style different from that of the older Plains songs. Typically its songs had a smaller range and a form in which each phrase is repeated once, for instance, AABB or AABBCC Among the Plains Indians, such as the Arapaho, these songs came to be associated with the Ghost Dance religion, and when the dance was outlawed, the songs continued to be sung. Their style was also associated with hand games and gambling games. Another musical style was brought to the Arapaho and other Plains Indians by the Peyote religion. Peyote, a cactus indigenous in Mexico, has buttons which when chewed have a mild narcotic effect, producing euphoria and eventually pleasant hallucinations. The Aztecs alreadv had a cult built around Peyote, but a religion of a different sort, preaching conciliation with the whites and including some superficial elements of Christianity, was based on this drug in North America. Peyote reached some of the Apache tribes after 1700 and spread from them to the majority of tribes in the United States during the nine­teenth and early twentieth centuries. The style of Peyote music is essentially the same among all of the North American tribes that use the Peyote ceremonies; and uniformly it differs from the older musi­cal styles of those tribes. Its form is similar to that of the older Plains songs, but its rhythm is characterized by the fact that it is rapid and composed mainly of only two note values—which can be notated by quarter and eighth notes; also it is accompanied by rapid playing of the drum and rattle. Special kinds of meaningless syllables and a par­ticular closing or cadential formula are used. Peyote songs are defi­nitely considered as a special type by the Arapaho.
The Arapaho culture does not have as many uses of music as do some other Indian tribes. For example, the Pueblo Indians have much more complex and numerous ceremonial songs. They also use music to accompany work, something unusual among Indians. The Navaho

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III