Native American Music

As a part of the Native American's culture and history, Native American music has always held an important role. Not only is their music a major part of most tribes' ceremonies and celebrations, it's often a large part of their method of passing down oral traditions and history. These songs ranged from public songs, sometimes historical and often retold, to private pieces that were to be kept unchanged throughout history as part of the effort to keep their culture and history intact forever.

Voice is important in most Native American music, whether it be group or solo performances. Sometimes these lyrics are an explanation of why the celebration or ritual is taking place. Other times, the words are a literal recitation of history or an entreaty to spirits for luck or to solve a problem. A common phenomenon is the use of repeated non-word syllables between major blocks of the song, separating each section. Drums are another major instrument in Native American music, as well as other percussive devices. Wind instruments, particularly the Native American flute, also came into use.

Just because Native American music was played by indigenous peoples doesn't mean it was all simple. Each tribe had their own traditions, their reasons for the music, the keys they played in, and the accompanying dances all having important individual meanings. Men and women often played specific roles in the performance of music, and while in one tribe women play the drum, they might sing backup in another. Despite the origins of this music, going back thousands of years, modern awards for new compositions following these traditional methods are still given; the Grammy Awards select a Best Native American Music Album annually, and the Native American Music Awards take place each year.

American Indian Topics





Native American Indians




American Indian Art




Southwestern Resources




Indians Misc.




American Indians