Although Native Americans are known for their voice being a vital instrument, most rituals, songs, and dances are accompanied by an assortment of instruments such as, drums, rattles, flutes. Every instrument has it is own meaning and a purpose. In this section, the significance of these instruments as well as their structure and functionality is explored.
The drums are a vital aspect to the Native American culture; they understand the drum to be more than an instrument. In a web article written by Elisa Throp entitled, “The importance of drums to Native American culture”, Elisa says, “It is a Voice. It is a Heartbeat. It is a prayer to the Great Spirit. The Native American Drum is all of these things, and more.” The drums are what the Native Americans use to connect to The Great Spirit and depending on the type of hide covers the drum the Native Americans use this instrument to connect with the animals and the Earth itself. According to the article, drumming are essential in education to talk about history, pass down ancient tradition, and tell stories to new generations. There are several different types of drums that are used throughout the Native American culture: the skin drum, frame drum, and the water drum. Each has different functionalities and sound. Also, they have some influence on present-day percussion instruments.
The skin drums, which are used in the central areas of Rockies and in the Northern Plains, are composed of a single tanned hide wrapped around a wooden box and found wrapped around the players chest. The size, build, and function of this instrument are similar to a single snare drum in a traditional marching band. Next the frame drum’s build similar to the skin drum. It is composed of hide stretched across a three to four inch deep wooden frame. Some frame drums have zills placed around the sides. The frame drums build is extremely similar to the tambourine, but it is can be played with a hand or stick and it can be sewn together with one or two more frame drums. Lastly, there is the water drum. This drum sounds completely different from the previous types; it is built differently as well. The water drum is made from an iron kettles or hollowed out and dried calabashes, which are then filled to a specific height with water. Even though this particular drum does not have any direct influences in percussion instruments, it can be easily recreated with a present-day household item like a milk jug. All of these drums are used by Native Americans to connect to The Great Spirit and the Earth.
Next the rattle, which is just as popular and significant as the drums accomplishes more than keeping the rhythm of the dance, it is also used to showcase the personality of an inner person. Because of their size, rattles are easily customizable and tend to change in look and composition based on tribes. According to “Native American Rattles and Their Importance”,
A variety of materials are used to make these rattles, and tribal...