Native North American Indian music?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by parrott, Jun 25, 2003.

  1. A folk-y group I've got myself involved with plays a series of songs about the plight of the North American Indians.

    What on earth should I play, bass wise???

    What are the characteristics or the music, what kind of scales are used, any rhythmic patterns I should look for, etc, because I don't have a clue what to play.....

  2. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    Well can't say that i have listened to alot of native american music, but my impression would be that it would use few notes and be more focused on rythm since the native americans didn't use many melodic instruments.
  3. Well, I'll put in my two cents worth. But, please understand that I've yet to actually play along with Native music (and I'm even part Cherokee). Keep it simple. For the rhythmic pieces, I suggest trying root/3rd/root/3rd...... as quarter notes. Also. try root/root/3rd/3rd/root/root/3rd/3rd..... as eighth notes or, another variation, root/root/3rd/5th/root/root/3rd/5th....... as eight notes. If it's a slow, ethereal, melodic piece, such as with a flute, just try sustained root notes. Anyway, I'll defer to anyone who has actually had experience playing with native music and I'll welcome any of their suggestions myself.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Dvorak's symphony No 9 (New World)is based on some Native North American music - so the slow movement is supposed to be based on an 'Indian' funeral chant....

    He wrote it for his American students who complained that all Classical music was European in origin and this was meant to prove that you could base a symphony on Native American music.
  5. Bruce,

    I was just wondering if you knew what Karl was injesting when he wrote that. What, was he visiting John Cage at the time? Sirius, according to most astronomers who study the issue, is not a good candidate for planets.

    Sorry to interrupt.

    As for native American indian music, what I have heard is pretty simple and does focus on rhythm and accent. You might try to get "fancy" and shadow the melody in canon...if it doesn't work outright in the note values you could slow it down in the bass...just a suggestion.
  6. SleeperMan2000


    Jul 31, 2002
    Cary NC
    I play with a fellow with an arsenal of native american flutes. For the most part the flutes are tuned to pentatonic scales, usually pentatonic minor.

    I bow whole notes from the pentatonic minor scale while he plays the flutes, it sounds pretty good.
  7. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    What other instruments are being used?

    You said 'plight'. Are you trying to tell tales of hardships, or are you going for an uplifting, 'not-give-up' feel?

    Anyway, you may want to check out artists like Joanne Shenandoah for inspiration. She blends folk music with traditional music of her Oneida tribe.

    I can think of a basic rhythm using drums and rattles: 3 beats to a measure. Drum on the 1st beat and rattle on the 3rd, sometimes with the drum on the 3rd as well. I tried substituting the drum with my bass and it sounds nice. I played a G on the 1st beat and sometimes a C on the 3rd. For some reason, a slow rhythm like this sounds better with a R/4th relationship instead of R/3rd. R/3rd, however, will give it a bouncy feel which may be what you are going for.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    It's the music of the spheres - doesn't have to be planets!! ;)

    I imagine him using a black hole to create music - well, he has already transcribed the Big Bang!
  9. TonyS


    Dec 13, 1999
    May I suggest you try this link for some Ideas. ... heard these folks live a few years ago. Originally they had a "New Age" thing going ... now much more Native American.

    Best Wishes.