Songs Of Earth Water Fire and Sky
Music Of The American Indian: Volume 1
New World Records
©1976 Recorded Anthology of American Music, Inc.
The first Americans, the American Indians, have for centuries valued music as an integral part of their lives. Creation narratives, migration stories, magic formulas, and ancient ceremonial practices tell of music. Archaeologists have found Indian musical instruments and pictographs of singing and dancing form as early as A.D. 600 and from areas as far apart as the mounds of the Southeast and the cliff dwellings of the Southwest (Brown, 1971, 1974; Howard, 1968). Styles differ within tribal groups and among individuals. The variety of the music is infinite.
The value of this music to the peoples was largely overlooked by most early writers: the travelers, the missionaries, and the soldiers. A young George Washington in 1748 recorded his impressions of an Indian dance in his diary in typical eighteenth-century fashion:
There manner of Dauncing is as follows Viz They clear a Large Circle and make a Great Fire in y. middle then seats themselves around it y. Speaker makes a grand speech telling them in what Manner they are to Daunce after he finished y. best Dauncer jumps up as one awaked out of a Sleep and runs and Jumps about y. Ring in a most comical Manner he is followed by y. Rest then begins there Musicians to Play ye. Musick is a Pot half [full] of Water with Deerskin streched over it as tight as it can and a goard with some Shott in it to Rattle and Piece of horses Tail tied to it to make it look fine y. one keeps Rattling and y. other Drumming all y. while y. other is Dauncing. (Randolph, 1973: p. 128)
The dance he describes is very much like the Stomp Dance in this album. What he and other early writers did not appreciate was the significance these dances held for the people performing them.
After the early accounts of Indian music and dance we enter the era of the curiosity seekers. In the first three quarters of the nineteenth century numerous Indian songs were transcribed from memory and published in encyclopedias and music anthologies around the world. In the last quarter of the century musicologist began collecting and analyzing Indian music. These early collectors - Theodor Baker, Alice Cunningham Fletcher (collaborating at times with John Comfort Fillmore), Carl Stumpf, Franz Boas, and Jesse Walter Fewkes, the firs person to record Indian music on a phonograph - provided material for theories on "primitive" music and also gave the world's composers ideas for works based on Indian themes. Some of the composers who have used Indian music as the basis for composition are Victor Herbert, Frederick Burton, Edward MacDowell, Arthur Farwell, Thurlow Lieurance, Charles Wakefield Cadman, Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and Elliott Carter.
After 1900 comparative musicologists like Natalie Curtis, Helen Roberts, George Herzog, and Frances Densmore started systematically collecting and analyzing Indian music of many tribes. The most prolific of these authors was Densmore, who from 1903 to 1959 published more than one hundred twenty books, monographs and article on American Indian music.
The importance of American Indian music is found not in its impact on modern scholarship and composition but in the traditions and values it expresses to and for the Indian people. This oral tradition has survived solely because the music was too important to be allowed to die. The emphasis in this disc is on musical value: the music of the first Americans can speak for itself.
||Herman Agoyo, Anthony S. Archuleta, Cipriano Garcia (bells), Jerry Garcia, Peter Garcia (drum), Steven Trujillo
||The Butterfly Dance of San Juan Pueblo, a Tewa-speaking village on the Rio Grande some twenty-five miles north of Santa Fe, was performed only second time in recent years on Easter Sunday 1975. The dance is associated with the war priest and warfare, as the following sacred narrative collected and translated by Alfonso Ortiz will illustrate.
A pair of twin boys who lived in an ancestral Tewa village had been endowed with special powers, blessings, and virtues by the spirits. The evil elders of that village regarded them as a threat to their own rule. They determined to bring the two boys before themselves in a kiva (ceremonial chamber) to shame them in a test of magic, thus destroying them. Because the boys were so young, the elders believed that the twins could not now much, nor could they have many powers.
Unknown to the boys, the supernatural spirits were looking after them. The elder of the twins said to his brother, "Younger brother, let us go down to the river and see what we can find to help us tonight."
They went to the river and began picking some green plants they found growing there. Suddenly, although it was January, a beautiful butterfly appeared. The elder brother saw it first and said, "Look, younger brother, a powanini (butterfly). Whoever heard of a powanini being around at this time of year? It must have much power. Maybe it was meant for us. Let's go chase it."
The twins chased the powanini, but every time they would get close to it, it would just barely escape them. It kept going, and they kept chasing it from limb to limb, leaf to leaf, and twig to twig. Still the butterfly eluded them. It led them west across the Rio Grande, across the foothills, and on up to the top of the sacred mountain of the West Tsikomo. Then it disappeared around a large rock near the top of the mountain.
The boys rounded the rock thinking that maybe by this time the powanini would be so tired that they would catch it. Lying there exhausted, bathed in perspiration, was the chief of the yellow Oxua, the ancestral spirits of the West.
"You children of an ash heap," he said to them. "You have worn me out."
"No, our elder, it wasn't you," they answered. "We didn't do anything to you. We were just chasing a butterfly."
"You don't understand anything," he retorted. "I was that butterfly."
The chief of the yellow Oxua then took the twins to the bottom of the lake where the yellow spirits had their village, and there the boys were told how to prepare for the contest that night. They were told what would happen and how they would emerge victorious from that contest with the village leaders. All the spirit people wanted to get rid of the evil village elders and install the boys instead, one as summer priest and the other as winter priest.
And so, with the great powers they had received from the spirits, the twins won the contest and became the first winter and summer priests of that village.
The butterfly in this story is the symbol of elusiveness, of always getting away, of just escaping in the nick of time. It is a quality to be desired in a warrior.
The Butterfly Dance is vigorous and demanding. It is a ceremony primarily for young people, who have to ask the war priest for permission to hold it. The girls choose their male partners and the song they like best. Then the couples rehearse in the kiva for two weeks before the performance in the plaza. On the day of the ceremony each couple dances once, in turn, to the chosen song. The dance is one of the few times in traditional Twas ritual when the spectators display favoritism toward individual dancers. In volunteering to dance, the girls obligate their families to throw gifts to the crowd when it is the girls' turn to dance. The competitive nature of these dances and the favoritism shown by the spectators are in direct contrast to most Tewa rituals, in which the group performance is paramount and no individual is allowed to stand out.
The costumes are beautiful and elaborate. Two distinguishing elements are a long straight tow of eagle feathers worn by the women down their backs to symbolize the butterfly's wings and a white chalcedony hatchet, called the "great-man axe," carried and brandished by the men during the dance.
There are nine Butterfly Dance songs from San Juan, performed in a set order. The song on this recording is the first one, the war priest's song, and is considered the most beautiful.
The first section of the song is the wasa, during which the participants dance into position; its text consists of vocables (nonlexical syllables). The second section, the dance proper, not only contains vocables but also carries the Tewa words. The two parts of the song are divided by a ritard at the end of the first part.
The text is a metaphorical statement about these agricultural people's dependence on the earth. It follows the life of the corn plant from its emergence through the first crack in the earth to its fruition and finally to its return to the soil through the people and animals is serves.
The instruments used are a double-headed cylindrical rawhide drum played by the lead singer and a set of bells worn behind the knee of the male dancer. The chorus sings in unison with loud, full voices. The ululation (wordless sustained high-pitched cry) heard partway through the second sections is performed by a singer patting his mouth with his had. This is the signal for the girl's families to throw gifts.
The song is heterometric and heterorhythmic; however, the wasa is primarily in triple meter, while the second section is primarily duple. Neither of these distinctions is clear-cut. The wasa, for example tends toward duple in many instances.
The range of the voices is a tenth in the wasa and a ninth in the second section. Each section uses the same five principal pitches, with auxiliary pitches added at cadential points in the song. Interesting variation is found at the end of the song, when the final pitch is raised a microtone.
In the wasa there is a marked correspondence of strong accents between the drum and the voices. They correspond less in the second section, and the deviations become extreme toward the end of the song. Despite these variances, the voices and instruments seem clearly fixed in their relationship to each other at all times.
||Recorded at San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, September 1975
||Leslie Bowen (leader), Herbert Dowdy, Sr., Avery Jimerson, Johnson Jimerson, Marty Jimerson, Richard JohnnyJohn
||The Seneca are one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois, located in New York State and on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario. The social dances of the Iroquois are performed after large ceremonies in the longhouse or purely for entertainment. Many social dances are concerned with mammals such as the rabbit and raccoon or birds such as the duck, robin, and pigeon. The Alligator Dance may have come to the Seneca from the Southeast through intertribal contact. Of the dances and songs on this record, the Alligator Dance is the only one consistently done indoors.
The male and female partners link elbows in a double-file semicircle moving counterclockwise around the singers, who sit on two benches facing each other. The men dance nearer the center of the circle, the women on the outside. At the refrain ("yo yo, hi ha," etc.) the men swing their partners around in place, each couple making a small circle.
The instruments used are the water drum, hand rattles made from steer horns, and bells on the legs of the male dancers. The drum is a wood cylinder partly filled with water and covered with a split-cowhide head fasted by a hoop wrapped with brightly colored cloth. The drumstick is a carved piece of hardwood. The leader of the song plays the drum, while each of the other singers plays a hand rattle.
The vocal style if partly unison and partly responsorial. The leader begins, the chorus echoes the first phrase, and then they sing in unison, with a nasal, sometimes pulsating quality, until the refrain. Then the sustained notes on "yo he" and the halved drumbeat signal the change in the dance step. The leader sings "yo yo" in a pulsating voice, and the chorus answers "hi ha" on a slightly higher pitch (less than a semitone higher). After this refrain has been sung eight or nine times, the "yo he" signal is sung again, and the song and dance resume as in the beginning. This form repeats five times, with some variations in pitch (in Nos. 1 and 2) and incomplete repetitions of the song (in Nos. 2 and 5). Another notable vocal techniques is the diminishing descending glide at the ends of the refrains. This is particularly noticeable at the end of the dance, when the whole song just seems to fade away.
The scales employed are tetratonic, but Nos. 1 and 3 use one pitch different from the others. The addition of the lower semitone in the leader's part of the refrain brings the number of pitches up to five. The meter is clearly duple, with the drum, voices, and rattles constantly emphasizing the beat.
Recorded in Salamanca, New York, October 1975
||The Los Angeles Norther Singers: Colin Bearstail, John Eagleshield, Steward G. Headley (leader), Joseph Seaboy, Bill Vermillion, James Young
||Although the Eagle Dance and the Rabbit Dance (side one, band4) have marked similarities, they represent two different types of Northern Plains music. The Los Angeles Northern Singers have members from the Sioux, Arickara, Hidatsa, and Northern Arapaho tribes. Organizations of Indians devoted to performing traditional music are common in large cities and represent a major force in keeping Indian music and culture alive.
Good singers among the Plains tribes (Northern and Southern) are expected to have loud voices, to know many songs, and to be able to learn new songs quickly. In the Northern Plains a higher, clearer voice seems to be preferred, while Southern Plains singer frequently has a lower, somewhat throaty voice (see side two, band 4, The Oklahoma Two-Step).
To the Arapaho, eagles are especially important birds. In the past their capture was accompanied by a four-day ceremony that included prayers, fasting, and the singing of eagle songs(Mooney, 1896: pp. 992-93). Now the Arapaho and other tribes have to petition the United States government for feathers from eagles killed accidentally.
The Arapaho words in the Eagle Dance, "Nesena ganinena hiyehi hidiba," mean "Our father, the great eagle, gave us this song, to the people."
The Eagle Dance begins with a solo leader. This first phrase is repeated by the chorus, and the rest of the song continues in unison broken up at times by heterophony. This pattern repeats four times. The male voices use a very wide range (a twelfth) and a high tessitura. They exhibit a great degree of vocal tension and pulsation, a quavering quality that affects both pitch and dynamics and accounts for most of the heterophonic relationship of the voices to each other. There are descending glides at the ends of some phrases.
The melody follows the common terraced descending contour of the Plains Indian's music. The intervals are disjunct, with a characteristic downward leap of a fourth. The scale is tetratonic. The entire pitch framework drifts down approximately a tone by the end of the song.
The interrelationship of the voices and the drum is complex. The singers sit in a circle around the large bass drum. Each has a padded beater and follows the leader, who signals the accents, acceleration, and repeats. The voices do not coincide exactly with the duple pulse but sometimes start just after the beat and sometimes just before. Since the dancers are following the drum, this relationship causes no problems.
|Nesena ganinena hiyehi hidiba
||Our father, the great eagle, gave us this song, to the people
Recorded in Los Angeles, October 1975
||The Los Angeles Northern Singers: Colin Bearstail (leader)
||The Rabbit Dance is one of the few dances of the Plains in which men and women are allowed to dance together. The women choose their partners. The couples hold hands crossed in front of them and dance in a clockwise circle around the drum. It is a social dance and a time for merriment.
The English words give some idea of the joking and interplay that go on:
Hey, sweetheart, I always think of you.
I wonder if you are alone tonight.
I wonder if your are thinking of me.
The song begins with the leader; he is seconded by the chorus, and all sing in virtual unison until the end of the song. This song is repeated four times in the same manner. In common practice several Rabbit Dance songs would follow each other in the same dance. There is less heterophony among the voices in this song than in the Eagle Dance. The range is smaller (an octave), but the tesstura still lies very high. Pulsation and terminal glides remain as vocal characteristics.
The melodic contour is again terraced descending, but the intervals are more conjunct. The scale is pentatonic. Again, the pitch framework drifts down about a tone during the song.
The meter is triple. The rhythm is relatively steady throughout, with the softer second beat occasionally omitted.
The accented beat is relatively steady throughout the piece with the softer beat occasionally omitted. The voices and drum seem to be in closer correlation here than in the Eagle Dance.
||Hey, sweetheart, I always think of you.
I wonder if you are alone tonight.
I wonder if your are thinking of me.
Recorded in Los Angeles, October 1975
||Singers: Jobie L. Fields, Van Johnson, Archie Sam (leader), Eli Sam (drum), Cedo Screechowl, Robert Sumpka, Luman Wildact, Squirrel Wildcat. Shell shakers: Sonja Fields, Levana Harjo, Evelyn Screechow
||The Creek Indians now residing in Oklahoma are descendants of people who formerly lived in the Southeast, primarily in Georgia and Alabama. The Creek and other members of the so-called Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole) were forcibly removed from their homelands east of the Mississippi to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) during the 1830s. Despite the hardships and loss of life suffered during and after their removal, these Indians reestablished their town governments and ceremonies in the new land.
The Medicine Spring ceremonial ground lies inside the old Cherokee Nation close to the border of the Creek Nation. The founders were Natchez (one tribe of the Creek Confederacy), but Cherokee, Seminole and Muskogee Creek have been influential members since the beginning. Animal dances like the Gar Dance have always played an important part in ceremonies at this ground. The Gar Dance is named after a fish of the southeastern United States. The gar is covered with hard, smooth, sharp diamond-shaped scales and has a long beak with large teeth. The Indians of the area eat the fish. In former times they also use its scales to arm their arrows and its teeth for ritual scratching.
The Creek Gar Dance texts suggest the cultural importance of this fish. The lexical texts may be interspersed with the vocables "we hai yo ne, we he hai yo ne" at the discretion of the singer. The Creek words can be sung at any time and as many times as the leader desires. In this recording some texts are used more than once while other are not.
Leg rattles, a water drum, and a hand rattle accompany singers. The leg rattles word by the women dancers tied around the calves of their legs, are made from terrapin shells or small evaporated-milk cans fastened to a backing. The water drum is a small keg over which a tanned buckskin is stretched and made taut by a hoop slipped over the top. The drum contains about two inches of water that is sloshed against the drum head from time to time to keep it wet and properly tuned. The drum is played with a hardwood drumstick. The hand rattle, plated by the leader, can be made from various materials, such as a gourd, a terrapin shell, or a coconut shell. In this recording the leader uses a coconut shell containing a small amount of river gravel. The shell is drilled with many holes and is fasted to a hickory stick about seven inches long.
The Gar Dance is performed today at Medicine Spring according to the following plan:
1) The dancers assemble in single file on the east side of the sacred fire. The men and women form a semicircle around the fire. The foremost man is the song and dance leader; the foremost woman is the lead shell shaker.
2) During the opening responsorial shouts and the unison introduction, the dancers walk in a natural way counterclockwise facing the fire, holding hands.
3) The leader signals by executing a tremolo with the hand rattle, the chorus shouts, and the dance begins. The men employ a flat-footed stomp step, while the women use a stamp-step double shake that produces an alternating loud-soft pulsation throughout the song.
4) At the refrain, "yo ho, hi ha," the tempo almost doubles. All the dancers stop, and the men do an about-face. Each man grasps the forearms of the woman directly behind him, and they swing each other around in place two or three times until the two have changed places. The woman is now ahead of the man in line. When they swing, the dancers lean back, arms extended and somewhat rigid as if to swing their partners off their feet. Shouting ends the refrain.
5) The song and refrain and the dance continue until the lead shell shaker arrives behind the male dance leader. Then the Gar Dance is ended. The leader may choose, as in this recording, to finish off with a stomp dance.
6) If there are many male dancers, the song may be repeated twenty or more times. An alternative is sometimes employed to shorten the dance. The leader may place some of the women farther up in the line in alternation with the men to lessen the number of repetitions necessary to reach the final position.
The Gar Dance has a characteristic seven-beat pattern, three plus four, occurring four or eight times, followed by a refrain. When the lexical words are used, the leader's pattern increases to four beats, the chorus remains the same, and the result is an eight-beat pattern. In the refrain the leader-chorus pattern becomes two plus two, followed by responsorial shouts.
The melodic contour is continuously undulating. The unison introduction is based on a pentatonic scale, while the rest of the song is tetratonic.
The dancers wear the same costumes as those of a Stomp Dance. The Gar Dance is one of several animal dances that may be performed to add variety to an evening of stomp dancing.
my eating food
my delicious (or craving) food
I am scratch with
Recorded at Medicine Spring ceremonial ground (Tsalagi Abihka), Sequoyah County, Oklahoma, August 1975
||Women's Brush Dance
||Singers: Loren Bommelyn, Frank A. Douglas, Aileen Figueroa (leader), Sam Lopez, Ella Vera Norris, Walter Richards, Sr., Florence Shaughnessy, Hector Simms, Oscar Taylor.
||The Yurok Indians live in northern California, from Trinidad on the coast northeast to the junction of the Trinity and Klamath rivers. Their economy was, and still is to some extent, based on the redwood forests and the ocean. Shell money and dance regalia are among their principal treasures.
The Brush Dance was formerly a curing ceremony for a sick child and lasted several days and nights. On the last night the male and female dancers donned their finest costumes, the men carried their otter-skin quivers filled with arrows, and dancing concluded the ceremony.
Today the Brush Dance is done primarily for entertainment and public exhibition. The music, the costumes, and the reverence for the dance, however, have not been lost.
In the song on the recording, the female leader begins each strophe before the chorus. The male chorus members then begin an ostinato pattern in an undertone that sounds almost like a soft conversation. Toward the middle of the strophe the chorus sings the pattern loudly, almost drowning out the soloist. The end of each strophe is marked by a phrase of aspirated exhalation on a pitch not used elsewhere in the song. Then the strophe repeats two times as before, three being the number of times a song is required to be sung. The only instrumental accompaniment is the abalone shell disks sewn on the female dancers' costumes. These dresses and aprons are necessary performing instruments: the owner volunteered to shake them in time to the music if the girls did not want to dance.
The melody shows falling, undulating, and pendulum movements. The ostinato figure seems to be in a set rhythmic pattern, but the men's pitches and vocables seem to differ. The complex musical relationship between the solo and the chorus ostinato patterns is highly unusual in American Indian music. While multi-part singing exists elsewhere, notably in the Southeast and the Northwest, such purely independent parts as those in Yurok Brush Dance are extremely rare.
The text is partly vocables and partly Yurok words that start about halfway through the strophe. Unfortunately, a translation of the words is unavailable at this time.
The soloist's vocal style is loud and tense. She uses only five pitches plus the lower-octave duplication of the highest pitch. The final pitch is not one of these five.
Recorded in Crescent City, California, November 1975
||Frank Jishie, Jr., Raymond K. Yazzie, Sam Yazzie, Jr. (rattle), Sam Yazzie, Sr. (leader, basket drum)
||The Navajo tribe is the nation's largest in population (over 100,000) and occupies the largest reservation. Their land in northern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southeastern Utah ranges from desert to mountains. Many Navajos still speak only Navajo and still participate in ancient religious ceremonies. Their music has many different songs and style to fit almost every occasion.
The Ribbon Dance - recently adapted for public demonstration - is just one example from one of many ceremonies. It is dance of the Mountain Way or Mountain Chant ceremony. Sam Yazzie Sr. explained that the dance was called alil beezhish, or with just the two songs included on this recording, na atoi beezhish. He further explained that alil meant the whole ceremony, the whole dance, and the force of the supernatural on those impersonating the deities. Because the Navajo language is capable of great subtleties of expression, these terms cannot be translated accurately into English.
The ceremony is performed in the winter to cure people who have mistakenly eaten bear or porcupine, or people who have had trouble with their throats. Mr. Yazzie said that the Ribbon Dance was part of the Fire Dance held on the last night of the nine-day Mountain Chant. The Fire Dance is so named because it takes place around a ceremonial fire and uses firebrands. It is held in a brush corral and is therefore sometimes called the Corral Dance. On this last night a variety of different dances and exhibitions takes place. As many as twenty different dance groups with their medicine men are present and compete at the ceremony, each group performing its specialty. The dances take place at the request of the patient or according to the specialties of the groups represented. The Fire Dance, then can contain different dances on different occasions.
"Ribbon dance" is probably an expression coined recently to describe the movements and paraphernalia of the dance. Men and women dance back and forth in two lines, weaving in and out. They carry a skeleton framework of reeds, held together with ribbons, from which eagle plumes are suspended.
The instruments are a hand rattle and a ceremonial basket turned upside down and beaten like a drum. The song leader sets the tempo with the basket drum, and the other singers and the rattler follow him.
The words to the song cannot be described wholly as meaningless syllables, a misnomer sometimes applied to vocables in Indian music. The singer knows the meaning behind the Ribbon Dance song but does not expose it to the public. Even the Navajo public will not readily define words, but the specialists and their apprentices know what they mean.
Both Ribbon Dance songs on this record begin with a rapid drumbeat and a rattle tremolo in a free rhythm. The meter soon stabilizes into a clear duple with occasional triple deviations. The ends of the two songs dissolve into free rhythm as in the beginnings.
The melody of both songs undulates and descends slightly. It stays on one pitch most of the time, almost as a reciting tone. Both songs have an octave range, with the lower octave duplication used infrequently. The first song has a three-pitch scale, the second a four-pitch scale.
The vocal style is tense and nasal. Other vocal features are descending slides between pitches and at the ends of some phrases, and ascending attacks at the beginnings of some phrases. These glides are frequently accompanied by dynamic changes.
Recorded in Chinle, Arizona, September 1975
||Eli Sam (drum), Leona Wildcat (lead shell shaker), Luman Wildcat (leader)
||The Cherokee once occupied a large territory in the southeastern united State. In the late 1830s the federal government forced them to march from their homeland to Indian Territory. This infamous "Trail of Tears" caused poverty and death. The Cherokee were split into two geographically separate groups. The North Carolina Cherokee managed to stay behind and buy back some of their former land, while the Oklahoma Cherokee had to start anew in an alien land.
Some Oklahoma Cherokee still practice their old religion. The Stomp Dance is the culmination of a day's activities at the ceremonial ground. The name is given both to a musical-dance-ritual event and to a separate dance within that even. The Stomp Dance usually contains a variety of different dances with their accompanying music. The ceremony begins with a Friendship Dance or other opening dance, is followed by a series of stomp dances, and closes with an Old Folks or Morning Dance. Animal dances like the Gar Dance, or other dances like the Doublehead, may be interspersed with the stomp dances throughout the evening.
After dark on the night appointed for the dance, members of the ceremonial ground, friends, and visitor assemble around the sacred fire. The The firekeeper calls for the dancing and singing to start, and the ancient ritual begins. The dance and song around the sacred fire invoke the Creator in prayer and worship.
The caller or organizer chooses the song-dance leaders, consulting with each in turn. He then moves to the east side of the fire and gives the call for the designated man and his helpers to come out. In a Stomp Dance the men enter from the west side of the ground and begin walking around the fire counterclockwise. The shell shakers and other women take their places alternately between the men, and the singing begins.
Introductory formulas and songs vary from leader to leader, but some general observations can be made. The first call and response is followed by a shout from the me. A series of short responsorial (leader-chorus) introductory formulas follows, with minimal pitch or text changes. Just before the first song begins, the text and the melody change noticeably. The one or two pitches used in the introduction expand to three or more, and the flat-footed running step of the men and women begins, accompanied by the double shake of the shell shakers and the rhythmic pulse of the drum.
Near the end of each song, the leader gives a had signal, the shell shakers break into a single shake, and everyone stops or slows down. In most Stomp Dances another shout from the men marks the end of the song. The selection on this recording, however, omits that shout. On the beginning of the second and following songs, activity starts again as described in the first song, but without any introduction. At the end of the song cycle, a higher pitched, louder shout (whoop) follows. Then the words "wado, wado" ("thank you, thank you") express pleasure for the dance just concluded.
The text of this dance consists entirely of vocables. Although the leader speaks Cherokee, Creek, and English, he chose not to use words from any of these languages in his songs.
The leader may choose from among any songs in his repertoire. Certain songs are popular and appear more frequently than other. A few are usually sung by one person, by members of the same family, or friends. The leader is also free to improvise during the songs within the cycle. Each Stomp Dance becomes a unique creation.
The texture of the Stomp Dance sequence is basically monophonic with rhythmic accompaniment throughout. There are moments of multipart singing (harmony in thirds) that add a vertical relationship to the primarily linear texture. The leader uses a slightly nasal voice. Breaks in the voice and glides between pitches are other vocal characteristics.
In the Stomp Dance, the introductory section is rendered in a rather free rhythm until the shell shakers begin. Then a pulse is established that varies little throughout the cycle until the faster ending section.
The scales in opening and closing sections have three pitches, while the bulk of the songs have five-pitch scales. The range is wide (an eleventh), and tessitura is high.
Because Medicine Spring has members from the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, and Natchez tribes, the costumes vary from individual to individual. They are good everyday clothes with the addition of hats and dance belts on the men and long skirts on the women.
The crackling of the fire and the background conversation of some of the children are expected elements in a Stomp Dance.
Recorded at Medicine Spring ceremonial ground (Tsalagi Abihka), Sequoya County, Oklahoma, August 1975
||Jack Anquoe (lead singer for Two-Step), Henry Collins, Bill Grass, James Kimble, Lionel Le Clair, Ed Little Cook, Oliver Little Cook, Morris Lookout, Adam Pratt (head singer), Joe Rush, E.R. Satepauho
||The singers in this piece represent a number of Oklahoma tribes: Pawnee, Ponca, Sac and Fox, Quapaw, Osage, and Kiowa. During the summer in Oklahoma, pow wows are held in almost every Plains Indian community. Each pow wow club raises money and plans for this major event for months. Great care is taken choosing a good "head singer," "head man dancer," and "head lady dancer." The main emphasis is on singing and dancing, but the pow wow is a general gathering that includes activities like feasting, giveaways, arts-and-crafts sales, raffles, and the crowning of a princess. Part of the money raised by the pow wow club goes to prizes for the competition among the dancers. Occasionally the prize for a single dance contest may be as much as $500 (for example, for the Men's War Dance).
The Oklahoma Two-Step is the Southern Plains equivalent of the Rabbit Dance. The women choose their partners, who then dance beside them, the couples holding hands crossed in front. The dancers start in a double-file semi-circle moving clockwise around the drum. During the course of the dance, the movements change and include patterns chosen from among the following: serpentine figures, circle, separating and converging symmetrical lines, and one double line ducking under the other. A climactic moment occurs toward the end of this recording when all the dancers rush to the center to salute the drum. On the whole, the To-Step builds from a slow warmup to an excited finish, with yells and applause from the dancers.
The Two-Step has a drum rhythm similar to that of the Rabbit Dance. The songs can be Round Dance songs, another genre featuring this rhythm. The songs are started in a manner similar to the Northern Plains songs. The leader sings the first phrase, the chorus seconds that phrase, and all sing in unison until the song is repeated. In this recording there is laughter when one member of the chorus enters too soon. All the singers sit around the bass drum, with a chorus of women behind them. The only other instruments are the bells on the legs of the male dancers.
The Two-Step is a cycle of three strophic songs. Each song is repeated fully a number of times in addition to incomplete repetitions within each strophe: the first song five times, the second three times, the third five times.
The melodic contour is terraced descending. The first song uses a pentatonic scale with lower octave duplications of the two highest pitches. The second uses a different pentatonic scale with higher octave duplications of the two lowest pitches. The third uses a three-pitch scale with lower octave duplication of the highest pitch. In the last three complete repetitions of the third song, the leader pushes the pitch framework up a whole tone and simultaneously speeds up the temp, which is then steadily increased until the end of the cycle.
Although the drum rhythm may be thought of as triple as in the Rabbit Dance, it is hard to define. The second drum stroke in each pattern, however, is less precisely articulated than the first, and this results in the rhythm's becoming duple at times. This is especially apparent toward the end of the cycle, when the tempo has almost doubled.
The vocal style shows very little pulsation, some nasality and less tension than that of the Northern singers. The women's chorus, singing an octave higher than the men, is an important addition to the texture. The words are vocables. Again it should be emphasized that these untranslatable syllables are not chosen arbitrarily and that in many cases songs can be identified by their vocable texts as well as by their melodies.
Recorded at the sixth annual Kihekah Steh Powwow, Skiatook Oklahoma, August 1975