Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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164 THE AMERICAN INDIANS
had specially trained musicians for entertainment at his court. A school of music was instituted at Cuzco by the Inca Roca about 1350,5 and in the fifteenth century the Inca Pachacuti ordered the collection of narrative songs about the deeds of the earlier Inca rul­ers; these were organized in song cycles.
The words of Indian songs
The words of Indian songs are of considerable interest, for they frequently fit into the musical structure in unexpected and interest­ing ways. For example, the Plains Indians, with their two-part song structure, have developed a rather dramatic but simultaneously utili­tarian way of setting words to music. Most of the song is taken up with meaningless syllables, such as "he-he" or "ho-ho," but the mean­ingful text appears at the beginning of the second section, which starts again (as does the first) on a high note and works its way downward. Its structure does not have the characteristics—such as rime or meter—of European poetry; it is rather like prose, although meaningless syllables sometimes appear between words and even be­tween the syllables of one word, presumably in order to keep the stressed syllables on stressed musical beats. The text does not cover the whole second part of the song, and when it is finished, the mean­ingless syllables are again used to fill in the rest of the melody. This kind of structure gives considerable flexibility to the composer or poet, for it enables him to substitute new words for old in the same tune, or to make slight changes in the words in order to keep up with the times. Thus, warriors of the Plains would report on their exploits in such songs, and the same tune could be used for various exploits. After World War I, in which many Indians served as soldiers, old tunes with new words recounting stories of the war began to appear. Such words as "Germany" and an Arapaho word for submarine be­gan to appear in the songs. Frequently these songs used texts from the tribal wars, but simply substituted German soldiers for Indian tribes; for example, "The German officer ran and dragged his blanket along." The following are song texts of the Arapaho:6
5 Robert Stevenson, The Music of Peru: Aboriginal and Viceroyal Epochs (Washington: Pan American Union, 1959), p. 39.
6 Collected by Bruno Nettl.







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