American Indian Music

Native Indian Life

Native American Indian Music
Facts and history about the life and lifestyles of Native American Indians. American Indian Music is most strongly associated with percussion musical instruments such as drums and rattles. However the tribes used other types of instruments such as the American Indian flute, as shown in the picture, and the Apache tribe developed a type of fiddle.

Music played an important role in the tribes and was a fundamental component of American Indian culture and social life. The Medicine Men or Shamans believed that music enabled them to  means of commune with the spiritual realm and music was used to bring the aid of supernatural power into the daily life of the people.

Native American Life - American Indian Music
The Life and Lifestyle of Native Indians is a varied and fascinating subject. The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Indian Music. For additional facts refer to Native Indian Drums and
American Indian Flutes.

American Indian Music Fact Sheet for kids

  • American Indian Music Fact 1: There were three distinct types of musical instruments consisting or percussion instruments, wind instruments and stringed musical instruments (although there were very few in this category)
  • American Indian Music Fact 2: The term ‘tom-tom’ is never used by traditionalist Native Indians in reference to their drums
  • American Indian Music Fact 3: Songs were sung to to ensure the assistance of the unseen power to capture game during the hunt to provided food and clothing for the people
  • American Indian Music Fact 4: Songs and music were also strongly associated in mourning and also times of rejoicing, courtship and marriage
  • American Indian Music Fact 5: Medicine Men used music during healing ceremonies and when administering healing herbs to the sick
  • American Indian Music Fact 6: Many tribes enjoyed team sports and games, especially the ball game that was similar to lacrosse. A lacrosse playing field was often in close proximity to the villages and the games were accompanied with music and feasting
  • American Indian Music Fact 7: There was no uniform key for any given piece of music or song, and the Native Indians have no mechanical device for determining pitch to create a standard by which to train the ear.
  • American Indian Music Fact 8: Songs were sung and music was played before entering into wars, conflicts and battles to give the warriors strength and enable him to face death bravely
  • American Indian Music Fact 9: Many western movies portrayed white settlers listening to the sound of Native Indian drums knowing that when they stopped they were facing imminent attack
  • American Indian Music Fact 10: The tribes believed that music brought rain and ensured good crops. It was also tells stories and legends, to express reverence and gives thanks to the Great Spirit
  • American Indian Music Fact 11: Percussion instruments, such as drums and rattles were by far the most common type of Native American Indian musical instrument
  • American Indian Music Fact 12: Drums were made in many shapes and sizes. Hand drums were commonly used by individuals such as Medicine men. The larger drums, including double sided drums, were played in unison as ceremonies, rituals and to accompany dances
  • American Indian Music Fact 13: Drum beaters came in various styles. The beaters were sticks with one or two stuffed wool heads. There were also bison tail beaters, made by splitting the tail of the buffalo
  • American Indian Music Fact 14: There were two types of rattles, those made of some kind of container in which pebbles were placed or rattles that were made by hanging shells or animal hooves from a stick. Some types were open-centered circular rattles
  • American Indian Music Fact 15: Almost all the tribes used bullroarers in religious and healing ceremonies. A bullroarer was small wooden slat attached to a string or thong that made a roaring noise when whirled
  • American Indian Music Fact 16: Metal bells were acquired through trade and also used during ritual and ceremonies
  • American Indian Music Fact 17: The flute, a woodwind musical instrument, was made from cedar with holes that were stopped by the fingers. The number of holes in the flute varied depending on the tribe and preference of the flute maker. Most flutes made by the Great Plains tribes had between 5 and 7 holes
  • American Indian Music Fact 18: Whistles served many different purposes. They were made from the bones of various birds, or from the small branches of trees. Long or short whistles were used commonly mostly used in ceremonies and rituals such as the Sun Dance. The warriors of some tribes sometimes blew whistles
    as they charged into battle
  • American Indian Music Fact 19: A mouth bow was used as a musical instrument by some Californian tribes. The mouth bow was held straight out with one end in the players mouth and the string was tapped by the index finger
  • American Indian Music Fact 20: The Apache fiddle is a bowed string instrument is made from a hollowed vegetal stalk, such as agave and carved into three articulated sections. The one-stringed Apache fiddle is held together with sinew wrappings
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