When you think of Native American music, do you only think of the old Westerns that depicted drums and dancers around a campfire? Not only is that extremely stereotypical, it is just wrong.
Native American music today is still rooted in the music of the flute, and yes, the drums, but it is so much more than that! It is given through emotions. Native American music still showcases these as the key instruments that carry the tune; however, often you will find that many other instruments are also giving the piece more depth and power.
There are many, more traditional recording artists still working on the songs of their and their forefathers youth, gently evolving them with time. There are also many new groups that have taken the traditional music and built upon it to create new, equally as beautiful and meaningful pieces of music that is a delight to hear.
Native American flute music has stayed extremely popular over the years, defying the trend to move toward a more worldly style. It is often accompanied by vocals but generally little else as the flute creates music that is transcendent all by itself
Drums, and other percussion instruments, are still as important today as they ever were. They carry the tempo with their varying beats.
The most important part of Native American music, though, is the vocals. With its elastic nature you will find yourself following the complexities that create some of the most emotional music you will ever hear. It will take you on a journey through your own soul to find who you are. When paired with the flute, it creates timeless peace and tranquility. As the forefront of a group, or band, it is the vocals that catch and hold your attention, whether it is in a Native tongue or not.
Powwow music seems to be the most popular second to the flute. It surrounds itself with the beating of the drum and the voices chanting in rhythm. It is the base music for dancing, often accompanied by the beat of the bells or jingles on the dancers garments.
Voted the Best Native American Music Album at the 2008 Grammy Awards was an album by Johnny Whitehorse called Totemic Flute Chants. This album gives you a way to work with your animal guides with twelve songs such as Bear, Wolf, Earth Mother and nine more.
Robert Mirabel is another popular Native American artist producing many stunning works in both the traditional sound with his native tongues, Tiwa, and also in English. He is an accomplished flutist, vocalist, and percussionist who is showcase in his works.
Dave Wolfs Robe is not only extremely talented, but he is also well known for many of his projects aimed to bring flute history and share the culture with many people. He is bringing the issues of the Native American people to the forefront such as the environment and how it is affecting indigenous peoples. His has produced three CD’s and is bringing the fourth to culmination. He has had his music included in the Devil’s Tower National Park CD and is hoping to broaden knowledge and peace, compassion and healing through the music of his flute.
Mary Youngblood has been playing music for more than twenty-five years and was the first Native American woman to record an album of music from the sacred flute. She has won numerous awards including a Grammy in 2003 for Beneath the Raven Moon. Mary has been classically trained on several instruments but she well known as the Premiere Native American female Flutist.
This is a short collection of the more traditional compositions in Native American music today with a few of the more prominent artists. Please keep in mind there are ever so many more and the list is rapidly growing daily in every genre from traditional to heavy metal and rap. Professional Native American musicians have had years since traditional music has been the only form they’ve played and enjoyed.
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Linda Silvas – Author – Publisher – Artist and International Public
Speaker – Washington State
Nick Savage – Author and Web Designer – Texas