Music — A Key to the Heart

Good Morning!

Music.  I’ve had a love affair with music most of my life.  When I was four, I taught myself to play piano on my 3 octave toy piano.  My mother demanded to know who had taught me and could hardly believe that I had taught myself with the little music book that had been sent with the toy.

For me, I would hate to think of what life would be like without music.  Music — it lifts our spirits, it lightens our load, it becomes our friend in rough or terrible times and a celebration when times are great.  Those with evil intentions use music to promote their propaganda — knowing that music can capture the spirit of a people and cause people to think certain ways about things that they might not otherwise believe.

And so today, I thought we might talk a little about music with a little twist — music Native American style.  Specifically the Native American Song.  I’ll be giving away a free ebook to some lucky blogger, also, so please come in and leave a comment.

  For those of you who haven’t heard many Indian songs, you might wonder what’s so different about a song in Native America.  In truth, though many Native American songs are like any other song, there are different considerations that attach themselves to Indian songs.  And it’s those considerations that I find fascinating.

Here’s a good place to start, where you can listen to some pow-wow music — the drum (this is a group — called the drum — it’s usually several men who sit around a drum and drum and sing — it is called simply a drum) for the opening song is Thunder Hill — but you can listen to some different drums, as well.  Here’s the link:

Above is a picture of a drum.  Some people might say “drum group,” but the usual language is simply “drum.”  Off to the left here are a couple of  pictures of a couple of young men dancing.

 These pictures were gotten,by the way, from the 26th Annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, NM.  The photographer is Derek Mathews.

Here’s some incredible pictures of some of the singers in different drums.

  Many of these songs are passed down from generation to generation.  Some, however, are new.  Here’s some more pictures of these incredible singers.09_drumrollcall13109_drumrollcall31109_drumrollcall21  All of these pictures,by the way were taken by Le Andra Peters andis from the website

Here’s some more pow-wow music:

Now, just a little bit of info about Indian songs.  This is from the book, The Indian How Book by Author C. Parker, who lived amongst the Indians.  Every song has a purpose and no one sings outright for fear of awakening spirits that are attracted to the song you’re singing.  The scales didn’t necessarily follow what we know of as the chromatic scale, which follow our string instruments, more or less.  But songs were owned and no one could sing another’s song without permission.

Many of the songs made you want to get up and dance — and dance and dance.  Once again, referring to Arthur C. Parker and his book, The Indian How Book, he says, “It may be that these old Indians were pagans, whatever that word may mean, but certainly they knew how to make men feel that there was a Great Spirit in whom we lived and moved and had our being.  Oddly enough, I have known white men and women, who felt the same way about the songs of the red people, and they have returned again and again to the councils of the Indians to drink in this feeling of mystery, this sense of unseen powers.”

Whatever the reason, I know that I love to dance at pow-wows.   Something about the music gets into your soul and before you know it, you’re out there with the other dancers, 21dancing your cares away.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my blog and I’d love to hear your take on many of these things.   Did you listen to any of the pow-wow music?  And if you did, tell me your thoughts. 

SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE is a book about song and about the power of song.  If you’ve enjoyed this blog, do have a look at this site: — and pick up your copy of SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE today!

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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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18 thoughts on “Music — A Key to the Heart”

  1. Loved listening to the music. I am so fond of drums, any drums. Since we found out that my grandma was telling the truth, that she was part Native American, I understand that fascination. I was born to it!

    Music has always been a part of my life, too, although I had teachers to learn to play my instruments. including the bass drum in band!

    My son is the true drummer and I missed his practices after he went away to college. He now plays drums for the worship team at his church and I love attending when we are visiting.

  2. I love a wide variety of music… always wanted to learn to play an instrument… I used to go to this one swap mart that had a few booths that sold Native American items… they always had such wonderful music playing… the beats, the voices… amazing!

  3. Hi Kay, as always, your post contains awesome info and stirs the heart. (and thanks again for Adam Beach LOL). I substitute-taught for years for a wonderful second-grade teacher who always softly played gentle music for her class. One of the CD’s was Native-American inspired, “Hides and Hearts.” I loved it so much she got me a copy, and I still love listening to it. In fact, your post reminds me to listen to it today!

    Good job! xo

  4. Hi Sherri!

    You know, I bet there’s something there — bet there is — perhaps untapped. A friend of mine once said she couldn’t dance until she went to college and realized all she needed to do was wiggle a little. Wha-la! She could dance. : )

  5. Hi Renee!

    Wow! Thanks for the compliment. I actually remember it very well. It came with a book and so it wasn’t so very hard — but still, my mother was amazed. : ) But then I came from a musical family, with my mother being a music teacher. So I’d grown up listening to the piano. : )

  6. Hi Tanya!

    I always love hearing about your adventures in teaching. You must’ve been quite a teacher. That music sounds incredible, Tanya!

  7. Hi, Karen! Just got your email, so here I am! What an interesting blog… But then,I’ve always enjoyed your work, even at this length! Take care, and have a great night.

  8. Hi Merry!

    Thanks for coming to the blog. I’m a little behind. Please forgive me — I’ll be posting the winner of the book tonight. Thanks again for coming to the blog.

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