- The musical instruments of the Indians were crude and consisted mainly
of drums, rattles, or notched sticks used to establish rhythm or make noise.
Drums were of many types, but usually were
made of skins stretched over frames. On the northwest coast a plank
or box might serve as a drum. Noise was made on notched sticks by
rubbing them with other sticks. Whistles were ordinarily made from
the wing bones of birds, as the Indians believed the sound that was produced
by them was like the cry of the bird whose wing bone had been used.
But there were whistles of wood and of pottery. The Omaha had a type
of flute with five holes and the Pueblo used a flageolet to accompany songs
in certain ceremonies. These flageolets were used, too, by young
men during courtship.
Bells were used on the ankles and legs
Rattles of different kinds were made from
animal hoofs, dewclaws, horns, and turtle shells. However, rattles
were not ordinarily used in dances, but were considered sacred objects
to be employed in rituals, religious festivals, and by medicine men.
The only stringed instrument known among
the early Indians was the musical bow, on which notes were produced
by stroking a thong stretched on a bow.
While the chief idea of the Indian's music
was to make noise and produce rhythm, he might dance to one rhythm and
sing to another at the same time.
within this Site
][ Bull-Roarer ][ Dance
][ Drum ]
][ Morache ][ Songs
][ Whistle ]