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Native American Music

In chapter ten, author Bruno Nettle takes the reader to the town of Browning, Montana, where he is about to witness a modern Native American ceremony. As he observes, he notices that only one-half of the people there are actual Native Americans. The rest are are white tourists and innocent observers just like himself. Eventually, somewhere around eighteen singing groups appear from different tribes and reservations. They will be summoning the dancers into what is known as the grand entry. Nettle notices that the overall style of the music remains the same among all of the different groups, or `drums.’ People are able to interact by taking pictures, video and tape recording what goes on. In that respect, the event is similar to a high school or local sporting event. Throughout this chapter the reader is introduced to many aspects of Native American music including: ceremonial traditions, musical areas, societies, unity and diversity, ideas about music, musical instruments, and aspects of history.Besides the powwow, there are other events involving music that deserve to be mentioned. In one area there may be gambling games played between two teams. This involves only the repetition of two musical phrases, trading places, along with only one melody. In another hut or barn, there could be a country hoe-down with a Blackfoot tribe singing familiar Nashville tunes. Events such as a rodeo also involve music, but not in as big of a way. It might be played jus as simple background music. These ceremonies are unique because it brings all tribes together as one. Since all songs are known by the majority of tribes, conflicts with language are overcome, mainly because the songs are wordless. Different kinds of events such as the gambling, the barn dance, and the rodeo symbolize two things: the idea that they are separate from other cultures, yet at the same time are in tune with ideas from other cultures.The idea of song am...

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