Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Music from Around the World: Native America

  Welcome back from Spring Break! I hope you all had a lovely week off. I know a few of you soaked up some sun, some visited family, and some took a stay-cation like we did. Now that we're refreshed and ready for the last part of the school year, we're going to delve into our unit about music from around the world.

  In the coming weeks you will be asked to listen to and analyze music from various cultural traditions. You'll learn important terms to help you describe the qualities of this music, and I hope you'll share the activities with your parents at home.

  This week we're starting close to home by listening to some music made right here in Montana. Our listening selection in class will be a War Dance song recorded in Browning, Montana, by a group of Blackfoot musicians.

  This week's important terms are:

1. Percussion: An instrument that is struck (drum, rattle, xylophone, or piano)
2. Vocalization: Sounds made with the voice
3. Monophony: A group of people singing the same notes at the same time
4. Tetratonic Scale: A scale with 4 tones
5. Vocables: Nonsense syllables (like la, da, di, or dum in songs you may be familiar with)

  We also discussed the use of songs for telling stories and transmitting histories, and the use of drumming accents to signal changes in musical sections. Not all of our terms are universal of course, since there are many native tribes with varying and rich musical traditions. I decided in this unit to stay close to home and chiefly discuss musical characteristics of the Plains peoples.

  Here is another musical selection for your enjoyment. This song is was performed by the Black Whistle Singers in Crow Agency, Montana.

How does your family use music to tell stories or share histories? Be prepared to show one example at your lesson next week.