Native American Sound Instruments

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"Native American Sound Instruments"

Through my own personal experiences and teachings from Native Americans, that have offered to enlighten me, I've gathered that there is a sacred nature rich in spirit and soul to them. The Native American lives religion as a way of life. Children of the tribe grow up in this world of spirituality and learn from example that religion can come as easily as taking a breath every day. This is no attempt to lead into the topic of religion, yet it needs to be known that the Native American sound instruments are used as a part of that religion or spirituality. There are many sound instruments used by Native Americans, but they vary accordingly from tribe to tribe. The Native American sound instruments are considered a way to almost imitate the processes of nature to attain their level of spirituality during ceremonies as well as every day life. The drum and the flute are just a few of the sound instruments used by Native Americans, yet the drum stands out as of major importance.
The drum provides a center for the tribe because it tends to represent a symbolic importance. Black Elk of the Oglala tribe was once quoted as explaining that symbolic importance as, "a drum's round form represents the universe. The steady strong beat of the drum is the pulse, the heart, throbbing at the center of the universe. As the voice of Wakan Tanka, it stirs and helps us to understand the mystery and power of things." (The Spirit World, page 149) Wakan Tanka is the name given to the Great Mystery, also known as the Big Holy or the Great Spirit, and this Wakan Tanka is considered as the one ruling power known as "Good." The First Nations consider, no, they believe that every thing has a soul or a life force and that they are also dependent on each other. The drum
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beats as if it is representing a heartbeat, this heartbeat could signify our beginning as if being safe inside a mother's womb. The drum is also believed to posses a "medicine" quality.
A drum can be made of many types of wood as well as many types of animal skin, yet there is only preference because of each individual tribe or person making the drum. Drums can be made in a various array of sizes, again depending on preference. Sizes can range from small enough for an individual to large enough for twelve people. The average size is...

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...l living things and the Native American sound instruments may be a key to reaching the center of the spiritual universe.

Works Consulted

DeBelius, Maggie, "The Spirit World." The American Indians Series, ED. Henry Woodhead, Time-Life Books, 1993.

Edmonds, Margot. and Clark, Ella. "Voices of the Winds:Native American Legends". New York: Facts on File, 1989.

Erdoes, Richard. and Ortiz, Alfonso. "American Indian Myths and Legends", New York:
Pantheon, 1984.
Frances Densmore. " The Study of Indian Music", Smithsonian Report, 1941, Facsimile
Reproduction, The Shorey Bookstore, Seattle, WA, 1996.
R. Carlos Nakai. and James Demars. " The Art of the Native American Flute", Canyon Records Productions, Phoenix, Arizona.

Richard W. Payne, M.D. "The Plains Flute",The Flutists Quarterly, 1988, Vol. 13, no.4, The National Flute Association, Ind. Ann Arbor MI.

Richard W. Payne, M.D. "The Native American Plains Flutes", Toubat Trails Publishing Co. Oklahoma City Publishing Co., 1999.

William K. Powers. "The Art of Courtship Among the 0glala", American Indian Art, Spring, 1980, Vol. 5, No.2, PP 40-47.
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