Folk Music in The United States


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Indian Music of the United States                                            35

with those of Western cultivated music, and thus it is not always possible to reproduce Indian songs on instruments like the piano. Most Indian singing would sound somewhat out-of-tune to unsympathetic Western ears.

Despite the small number of Indians in the United States, the number of diflFerent musical styles is large. The Indians of the Plains sing in a tense, harsh, raucous way, and their melodies cascade down a series of terraces or steps, rarely moving upwards. Their music sounds wild. The stressed tones are accented violently, and on the long notes the singers continue the rhythmic pulsations so that the music never comes to a rest. The melodies have large ranges with the singers beginning high, sometimes in a falsetto voice, and descending to a growling depth. Examples 18 and 23 represent the Plains style.

Some of the tribes of the Southwest, especially the Yumans of southern Arizona and California, have a diflFerent style. Their songs are relaxed; they give an impression of tight organization and rationality. This statement, however, should be interpreted not as an objective description but as an impressionistic expression of the subjective reactions of a person of Western culture. The Plains songs are probably no wilder, in a real sense, than those of the Yumans; but we can judiciously use the term to describe the music in a communicative way. The Yuman songs have small ranges, fairly simple rhythms, and an even flow. In contrast to them, again, the songs of the Southwestern Pueblos are complicated, consisting of several distinct portions, and often they are sung in a low, growling voice.

The songs of the Northwest Coast have considerable rhythmic complexity; the singer may perform rhythmic patterns quite different from those of the drum or rattle accompaniment, something rarely found elsewhere in the United States. The Northwest Coast has a wealth of instruments and some part-singing, an unusual phenomenon among Indians. The desert tribes of Nevada and Utah, on the other hand, have a very simple kind of music. A distinctive feature is the repetition of each phrase so that everything appears twice. (Example 20 is in this style, even though it is from the Dakotas.) In eastern United States, one char-

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