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Musical Instruments - 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 of dancers.

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.

Related Information within this Site
[ Bell ][ Bull-Roarer ][ Dance ][ Drum ]
[ Eagle ][ Morache ][ Songs ][ Whistle ]