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Listening Journal

Unit 1-Listening Journal

Sioux Grass Dance Song

This song is a well-organized piece. One may mistake it to be rough but it certainly is well sang. The drum happens to be the only instrument used in the song. The tempo of the song is determined by the pace of the drumbeat. The song is accompanied with only two beats a slow one and then a fast one. There is no transition between them. The atmosphere in the song is aggressive and so is the texture.in fact, when I heard the song, it sounded like a war song. Perhaps that is why my heart beat fast rhyming with the fast beats of the song and then relaxed with the slower beats.

Navajo Lullaby, “Shii Na-Sha”

This song is audible and gentle. I thought I knew the song but I was mistaken. It sounds like one that my mom used to sing for me every night as I went to bed when I was a kid, so that I may sleep. The songs brought throwback memories of my early childhood life so that I called my mother to reminisce those days. I can hear two instruments that are being used to play this song. I can identify both but I can describe their sounds as one sounding like a rattle instrument and the other as the beats of some kind of drum.  The song has a soothing mood, its melody is slow and low. The texture of this song is smooth and drinking water is the best example of how smooth this song is. As old as I am, I still fancy this song and I do not see myself stop singing the song every night before sleeping.

Iroquois Stick Dance

The tempo of this song depends on the attitude of the singer. It may be slow for a slow singer but fast for a fast singer. Precisely, there is a solo leading the song and others follow. This means, if he sings fast, the rest will also sing fast, but if he sings slowly, then the others will follow slowly. As I was listening, I couldn’t help to stop tapping my feet with the rhythm of the song. Small bells are audible from the background, possibly foring part of the costumes of the dances in the song. The melody of the song comprises of high and low pitches in the song’s rhythm. The mood of the song is determined by the aggressiveness of the singers. The song is less aggressive when the women join the men in the singing. Generally, the song has a very organized and smooth rhythm.

Unit 2-Listening Journal

Honor Song, Chemawa

This song sounds like a vocable and lexical song. The participants take after rhythm produced by drum beats. It is not definite that there is a lead singer upon listening to the song. The entire theme of the song is obedience, honor and respect. The song brings a feeling of honor. The beat of the drum is very aggressive and it changes pace as the song goes along. The overall tempo of the drum’s beats is fast but it changes to slow beat for a couple of seconds and back again to upbeat. At first, I did not get the reason behind the frequent upbeat. But later on, I realized it is meant to honor the intended target. It is perceived that the louder the beats, the more the honor the person is given.

Navajo Children’s Peyote Song

When I listened to this song, I could tell that it is lexical and high-tempo. The song sounded to me like the people were praying. The mood of the song appeared to be a little bit aggressive but that just could be because of the upbeat of the song. The song had a smooth and well organized texture. This song enlightened me on the application of a water drum in playing songs. I am not certain but I think the song is used in certain occasions, may be the baptism of the children in the specific community.

Prophecy Song, Joanne Shenandoah

The song seems to contain words from the native’s language and thus is a lexical song. This song is also relaxing and soothing. In as much as I cannot get what is being sang, I can predict that it talks about something spiritual.  The singer’s voice is the only component of the song as it is not accompanied by any instruments. The singer sounds emotional and I can tell that she is singing from her heart bringing out a low and very smooth melody. In my opinion, this song is best at its native language, otherwise, translating it would make it lose her taste. The song invokes emotions in me and it made me thoughtful and peaceful.

Unit 3-Listening Journal

Indian Shaker Song, Johnny Moses (Tulalip)

            This song conveys a sense of a prayer, which would be sung in a church. The song is mainly vocable except for the verse at the beginning and at the end of the recording. The singer was possibly reciting a holy prayer. This song made brought a solemn mood and I felt like praying. This feeling was mainly caused by the sound of the handbell that Moses was using while singing this song. The major instrument audible in the song was a handbell. There was also a slight stomping from afar, which could only be heard after listening keenly. The song is very smooth and very soothing which, in my opinion, makes it a really good healing song. The overall melody of the song was low but sometimes Moses would go for a higher note while singing.

Indian Shaker Song, Lillian Pullen (Quileute)

            This song has no instruments other than the singer’s vocal chords. Audible was Pullen’s voice shaking constantly, which indicates to me that it should be sung this way to invoke divine powers. This song gave me a lone, terrifying feeling and I could not think of anything else apart from Pullen’s shaken voice. It is very relaxing and soothing. As for the melody of the song, it gradually shifts from high to low and vise versa as the song goes along. I believe that this song really has magical powers of healing owing to the tone used and the atmosphere it creates. I think that with the right settings this song can be really used to heal people.

T’abaa Song, Helma Swan (Makah)

            This song is a lexical song because I can hear Helma singing words rather than just vocables. This is a love song as it is described in the website. As Helma sang, her voice would go up and down but the drum’s beat would stay on a steady rhythm. Her voice would go down whenever she says Aiku (i.e. I hurt) which indicates how hurt the lover is. While listening to this song, I could hear the pain in Helma’s voice which goes perfectly with the mood of the song; sadness. This song reminded me of the times I felt low and lonely because I had lost a loved one. This is the perfect song for such a mood.

Unit 4=Listening Journal

Owl Dance Song, James Selam (Yakama)

            This song is a combination of both lexical and vocable lyrics. I only hear one man singing and he is using what sounds like a drum but I think it is a water drum. The song is relaxed and it has a mid-tempo rhythm that changes pace on three levels; low, medium and high. the overall texture of the song is smooth due to the stable voice of the singer. When I listened to this song, I felt like I was standing in the alter waiting for my wife to walk down the isle.

Women’s Traditional Dance, The Rising Son Drum Group (Nez Perce)=Listening Journal

            This song is an honor song performed by women welcoming the returned warriors. It is a vocable song which the choir follows a lead singer. I can hear that drums and small bells are in use to perform this song. The song is very tense and aggressive which can be compared to the same mood of Chemawa’s honor song. The beat of the song is high tempo and stays like this for the whole song. In my point of view, when there is a lead singer, the song is smooth and organized no matter how tense and aggressive it gets. I can understand now why the beat is very loud that is because it illustrates a sense of pride.

Stick Game Song, The Sijohn and Nomee Families (Spokane)-Listening Journal

            This song is a combination of two power songs that are sung by two different families who are participating in the stick game. There is a transition that happens in this song; this transition occurs when people started laughing. With this transition a whole different song started and that’s because the second family started singing. The difference between the two songs was mainly the melody; it changed from low in the first one to high in the second one. I am not sure if drums were in use to play both songs but all I can hear next to there smooth and rough vocables were sticks being hit against each other. This song made me feel the competition that was going on, and some how I wanted to start competing with my roommate by singing our own traditional songs.

Unit 5

Inuit Throat-Singing Sisters from Canada-Listening Journal

This song differs with most of the other songs I have listened to thus far. I was only able to realize that two women were playing the song after watching it. They played the song so nicely in a uniform voice and my attempt to imitate them was futile. I could not produce such a round tone as theirs. The sister’s vocables were the only instruments used in the song. It was difficult to determine the tempo of this song and only familiarizing with it would give me the clue as to whether it is aggressive or soothing. However, it has a dynamic melody, as the two sisters maintain the rhythm of the song by maintaining a half a second gap between every person’s turn. Perhaps, this song was sung by women at home when the men had gone out