North America Indian Story & Song - online book

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memories, to lead the singing and to transmit with accuracy the stories and songs of the society, which frequently preserved bits of tribal history. Fines were imposed upon any member who sang incor­rectly, while ridicule always and everywhere fol­lowed a faulty rendering of a song.
The right to sing a song which belonged to an individual could be purchased, the person buying the song being taught it by its owner.
These beliefs and customs among the Indians have made it possible to preserve their songs with­out change from one generation to another. Many curious and interesting proofs of accuracy of trans­mittal have come to my knowledge during the past twenty years, while studying these primitive mel­odies.
Indian singing was always in unison; and, as the natural soprano, contralto, tenor, and bass moved along in octaves, the different qualities of tone in the voices brought out the overtones and produced harmonic effects. When listening to chorals sung by two or three hundred voices, as I have many times heard them in ceremonials, it has been diffi­cult to realise that all were singing in unison.
Close and continued observation has revealed that
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