Native Heritage Month

2009 November 4


First off, thanks to those who responded to the first post.  Nice to know some folks are tuning in.  And, yes, it’s November, also known as Native American and Alsaska/Hawaii Native Heritage Month or something like that.

I have a Tsalagi (Cherokee) friend who likes to tell the story of doing his thing at a public schools showcase in the area for the opportunity to do cultural education programs in the schools.  The person auditioning ahead of him was African American.  Just before going on, the gentleman turned to my friend and said, “I don’t know why I bother doing this.  I only get gigs in February”.  My friend replied, “I know what you mean.  I only get gigs in November”.  Sometimes, a special “Heritage” month can be its own little time ghetto… 

Whenever I go out on any kind of gig, I am always just hopeful that I represent my people well in some small way.  There are still a lot of assumptions and stereotypes out there.  Musical ones, too.  For example, it’s often assumed that if we are playing what most of us call “Basic Scale” on N.A. flute that we are automatically playing “Traditional Style”.  The reality, of course, is that a standardized “Basic Scale” is a modern idea.  The old tuning systems were not nearly as consistent.  And many (dare I say most) actual old time songs cannot be played using just ”Basic Scale”.  Listen to some old field recordings and try to translate what you hear to modern basic scale if you don’t believe me.  Or check out “Music of the Cherokee Nation” (two volumes, Susato Press, transcribed into modern notation by Daniel Chazanoff). 

For my ears, there is no more beautiful demonstration of the variability of the old time tunings than Kevin Locke’s “Love Songs of the Lakota”.  There is also a great demonstration by Kevin on the well-known video “Songkeepers” of how he sings a traditional love song, then translates it to the flute.

 happy non-stereotypical fluting…  :-)


2 Comments leave one →
2009 November 4
Rick McDaniel / Lewisville, TX permalink

In the Daniel Chazenoff songbooks, there is a statement that they are for NAF, yet when I looked over them, they appeared to be in recorder notation. What is your own impression?

I didn’t really want to spend a lot of time converting them to today’s NAF, even if it has become more “standardized”.

2009 November 13

Where do I find these ‘field recordings’? Are they also called Wax cylinder recordings?

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