Native American Elements in Piano Repertoire by the Indianist and Present-Day Native American Composers
Description: My paper defines and analyzes the use of Native American elements in classical piano repertoire that has been composed based on Native American tribal melodies, rhythms, and motifs. First, a historical background and survey of scholarly transcriptions of many tribal melodies, in chapter 1, explains the interest generated in American indigenous music by music scholars and composers. Chapter 2 defines and illustrates prominent Native American musical elements. Chapter 3 outlines the timing of seven factors that led to the beginning of a truly American concert idiom, music based on its own indigenous folk material. Chapter 4 analyzes examples of Native American inspired piano repertoire by the "Indianist" composers between 1890-1920 and other composers known primarily as "mainstream" composers. Chapter 5 proves that the interest in Native American elements as compositional material did not die out with the end of the "Indianist" movement around 1920, but has enjoyed a new creative activity in the area called "Classical Native" by current day Native American composers. The findings are that the creative interest and source of inspiration for the earlier "Indianist" compositions was thought to have waned in the face of so many other American musical interests after 1920, but the tradition has recently taken a new direction with the success of many new Native American composers who have an intrinsic commitment to see it succeed as a category of classical repertoire. Native American musical elements have been misunderstood for many years due to differences in systems of notation and cultural barriers. The ethnographers and Indianist composers, though criticized for creating a paradox, in reality are the ones who saved the original tribal melodies and created the perpetual interest in Native American music as a thematic resource for classical music repertoire, in particular piano repertoire.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Thomas, Lisa Cheryl