Saturday, May 18, 2013

Gathering of Nations 2013, Part 2: A Whole 'Nother Music Genre

Gathering of Nations 2013, New Mexico

From my experience at the Red Paint Powwow, I knew about the (big) drum contests, but I didn't know anything about the hand drums.

It opened up an entirely new genre of  music to me. Totally unexpected experience.

Sometimes one, sometimes two, sometimes a group of people standing in front of the mic, holding hand drums. First they'd sing in a Native language, then there'd be a pause, and then the song would be in English. Romantic at times. Poignant. Funny.

They're "round dance"songs. 

A sampling of songs 

Ask Your Mom For Fifty Cents 

Ask your mom for fifty cents
To watch the fat man jump the fence
He jumped so high he touched the sky
He never came down til Fourth of July. 

Just for You

I don't know what to do 
I can't just say I love you
After all we've been through
What am I supposed to do
I've always been meant just for you.

What a voice.

Sonny Boy

Sonny boy, Daddy's proud of you
In every thing you do
Daddy's here for you
Sonny boy, Daddy cares for you
Daddy loves you, too
You are Daddy's pride and joy

What is a round dance song? 

I found this remembrance on a youtube video of a round dance song, Honey Open the Door:

Imagine this, when I was a kid in the 50;s, rounddances were held in people's houses,teams of horses and sleighs would arrive with singers and dancers. Us kids would play outside till we had enough, the house would be rocking, the room blue with smoke. There'd be deer meat soup and boiled potatoes and of course bannock and lard, berries and canned milk. Granny would make us a bed somewhere and we'd watch and listen till we fell asleep.

Chickamauga Cherokee gives a bit of explanation about round dance music, with an excerpt below
The origins of Round Dance come from the healing dances of the Plains Indians – it retains its spiritual core and inspires joy and happiness – men and women, young and old dance in a spectacular display of kinship and harmony.  It has developed into a friendship dance that has long been held as a courting activity. This dance is one of the few Native American dances in which women get to dance with men. Native American traditional dances are usually segregated by gender.  It is performed during a portion of a powwow and during many social occasions. The round dance has an infectious upbeat tempo and creates a simple and fun activity. The beat of the drum is different from other dances.

A Saskatchewan library hosted a round dance in 2011, and noted this:

First Nation protocol and information for the pipe ceremony and feast [which would precede the round dance]: Women who are on their monthly cycle must refrain from attending [Emphasis added.] Women are encouraged to wear a long skirt to all traditional gatherings.

The text above that I highlighted in pink is a good example of what I was talking about back here - the restrictions on women's self-determination in the guise of culture, religion, "respect," or "protection." The fact that a public library in Canada prohibited some of its members from attending a public event, based on their gender, is repellent.

But I digress.

I love the round dance songs and plan to listen to many more of them. 

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