World Music Exploration 2010/11 Week 9 - Aboriginal Canadian Music

This month, my students and I are exploring Canadian music. With Canada Music Week taking place November 21 - 27, I thought it was apropos to dedicate the month to exploring our own musical culture.

This week, I've selected two contrasting clips of music by our First Nations peoples. This first clip is of the Native American Hoop Dance. The dance signifies the circle of life, with no beginning or ending. Each hoop added represents another layer or thread in our lives as we learn new things and interconnect with others.

The second clip demonstrates Inuit throat singing. I had the pleasure of watching a performance at a friend's wedding a couple of years ago.

Initially, it was a means for Inuit women to entertain themselves while the men were out hunting. Today, it is sung primarily by women but sometimes by men.

Throat singing has different names in the Inuit language. Depending upon the Arctic region, it is called katajjaq, pirkusirtuk or nipaquhiit.

If it sounds to you like the two girls are playing a game, you're spot on. One woman leads the game, while the other woman responds. According to Timothy McGee, author of The Music of Canada, the women create rhythms with their breathing and guttural sounds at a fast tempo. The one who can keep going the longest without missing a beat or running out of breath is the winner. (c) 2010 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.