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Old 06-26-2001, 09:54 PM   #1
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Post Northern singing southern

What do you all think of a northern drum (not naming names) singing primarily southern tunes?
I don't like it but my opinion don't matter.
I'd like to hear specifically from singers from the southwest or Northern singers.

I should add that this group is Ojibwe.

[ June 26, 2001: Message edited by: DontwannaArgue ]
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Old 06-26-2001, 10:29 PM   #2
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if the drum is setting up as a northern drum and sings primarily southern songs, southern style i dont agree with it. let the southern drum sing their songs their way. set up as a southern drum if you want to sing southern.
now if the northern drum sings primarily southern songs northern stle (recent not old omaha songs or the like that have been converted long ago), i dont feel they should do that either. i dont neccesarily disagree with drums that very rarily slip in a southern song (like norhtern cree and their southern style fancy songs). they kind of just throwing a changeup and is interesting to hear and watch. now if it is a northern singer or two who sit in with a southern drum occasionaly i see no problem with that. i know a few who do and am one myself. some of us love southern songs as well and like to sit in occasionaly and sing gourd or help some southern buddies out. anyways thats just a little about what i think.
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Old 06-26-2001, 11:06 PM   #3
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I have to agree that a drum should sing primarily one style but should also be experienced in all styles of singing. DontwannaArgue, the very point you are making may be the reason this group didn't place higher eh? giga-wabimin
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Old 06-27-2001, 10:09 AM   #4
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I don't have a problem with a northern group singing southern (or the other way around) as long as they sing the songs right.

Although I would think a drum group doing that would run the risk of doing a little bit of everything and not being very good at anything. You can be a better group if you concentrate on one style of singing.

Just curious-what are your objections to a group singing northern & southern songs?

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Old 06-27-2001, 02:59 PM   #5
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Don't see a problem with it ifs its every now and again that the northern drum sings a southern song. I've danced to Black Lodge singing a southern song before and they did it quite well at that, but it was the only southern song they sung that weekend. That's not that uncommon. Now, if the group switches back and forth between northern and southern during the weekend, that doesn't make sense to me. Pick one or the other. As a northern singer who has sung a small amount of southern, I would find it difficult to pull out a southern song if requested and probably would pass to another drum who could rather than screw it up for the dancers.
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Old 06-27-2001, 03:18 PM   #6
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I don't care for Northern drums to sing southern songs. I've yet to hear a drum group sing one correctly, and it really irritates dancers from Oklahoma when they have to contest to a southern song that isn't sung right. Also, alot of popular southern songs belong to specific people or families, and it's hard to keep them straight unless you are from the south, and vice versa for southern drums trying to sing northern. As for Blacklodge singing southern, I believe that they made relatives with the Cozad family from Oklahoma and that's why they sing some southern songs.
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Old 06-27-2001, 08:36 PM   #7
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well just who is it that everyone is talking about here??? As for myself i have heard a number of "big name" northern drums singing a southern song or two and i think they are just showing respect for that style of music.....as for drums from the north singing southern all the time ....well i son't totally agree with that
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Old 06-28-2001, 01:28 AM   #8
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It was taught to me that if you are northern to sing northern songs unless a southern song is requested. It happens. A prepared drum group should always have a few ready if called upon. I seen it happen at morley. When the southern drum didn't show up - abunch of guys from various groups got together and were able to provide the music for the southern contest.
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Old 06-28-2001, 02:42 AM   #9
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I hear alot of southern songs at pow-wows up here in the last year, primarily fancy dance or fancy shawl and the occasional sneak up or crow hop. I look at it the same way as my nephew described non-indians imitating indians dancing pow-wow, it is a form of flattery and praise as they are attempting to be like us because it is so beautiful.
It is the same to me about southern style songs, they are beautiful and different and it is the same as all drums singing the big drums songs, a compliment that they are looked up to, admired and enjoyed enough to try to be like the big drums. The exchange of styles is part of our culture as nothing is totally authentic, I know in many ceremonies our tribe has adopted many practices from Lakota, Blackfoot, etc as they have ours and the intermarriages, adoptions, wife stealing that went on was a part of it, our culture is dynamic , it is not stagnant and it changes slightly to accommodate the needs of its people, spirituality is not as dynamic as it has a different intent but that is still different today from pre-contact. In my life at this time I try to look for positives and strengths as that is what heals me and gives me power to live as Creator intended, happy, loving, compassionate and honest....which are some of the important principles and values all Indian cultures have as their foundation.
A few years ago I knew nothing of Southern style, now I truly enjoy hearing the songs as I said they are beautiful to listen to and to dance too and they can be very challenging as well because of the different style.
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Old 06-28-2001, 10:24 AM   #10
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I guess I don't see "northern" & "southern" lines as clearly as others do. It just doesn't seem as black and white to me. I also don't see the point in making a big deal out of it. How do you define northern & southern? For example:

-Are Omaha songs northern because that tribe is in Nebraska?

-There are many Ponca songs that are the same as Omaha songs. And since the Ponca were moved to OK and some still live in NE & SD, are they northern or southern?

-How would you classify Ho-Chunk songs? Most Ho-Chunks live in WI & NE, but their songs are more similar to Ponca & Omaha songs than other "northern" tribes.

Some generalizations can be made. But if the group is singing those southern songs well and in the right place, and people are happy dancing to it, then just enjoy it. It's all good.

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Old 06-28-2001, 10:57 AM   #11
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Howdy;
you know I asked this question before and didn't get an answer, but this seems like a good place to ask again? Why is northern and southern different? When did it change? Which is the "orginal" style? I know I have heard old songs, from the 1800's and they are "Northern" style so when did Southern come in, how far can it be traced back? Has southern always been around??
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Old 06-28-2001, 11:40 AM   #12
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I'll take a stab at it and people, please keep in mind this is purely speculation :O

First off, I've always thought of vocal ranges in this way...Ponca on one end and Cree on the other with Lakota falling somewhere in between. Omaha songs as I've heard them sung as similar to Lakota songs in pitch, and since all northern tribes had songs prior to the proliferation of the Omaha Wacipi across the plains, I would think that when those songs were brought up they were sung northern style from the get go.

As for southern singing, I have no idea, but am curious as well because a lot of current day "Southern Tribes" used to live more up north such as the Kiowas and Cheyennes for instance.

Well, that's my take on it. :)
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Old 06-28-2001, 02:04 PM   #13
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I also would like to take a stab at it, but this is just what goes on in my head, pure speculation.

If you listen to some really old powwow tapes, you'll find that even the northern drums didn't sing in the high vocal range that they do now. I think it all started somewhere in the middle, and due to the regions, northern and southern singing progressed to the point that they are now. I do know this from some Okies....the victory songs that are sung at the Dakota/Lakota wacipis (the 4 songs they sing when they bring the guidons in the arena, not the victory songs that are usually sung during grand entry....these songs are different), have the same tune as some black legging songs sung during the Kiowa black legging ceremonials. The tune is the same but the words are different. And if anyone has been to prairie island powwow or in SD, then you remember that those victory songs are not sung in the real high "northern" range that you hear now. Even the songs sung at ceremonies up north are not sung in that real high range either.

In addition, there was alot of different affiliations years ago. There is a strong connection between the Arikara and the Pawnee (right Sahnish?), and I recognize the songs that both sing....just one is sung a little higher than the other. Been to Little Shell before and it was strange to hear the songs I recognized as Pawnee sung in a northern style (Ree Scouts).

My point to all my rambling is that I think the high "northern" range is a product of the evolution of singing as it got further away from the central plains area, and vice versa for the south. Does that make any sense?
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Old 06-28-2001, 03:20 PM   #14
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the way things are now, there is a clear distiction between northern and southern. nowadays vocal pitch, where the downbeats are placed all can indicate whether northen or southern is being sung. right now the distiction is clear. yeah, maybe in the days the two were very similar, that is what ive heard as the powwow and its songs all had a begining and this beginning had its stlye and structure before it spread and evolved to where there are different styles and powwows all over. but the question is what do people think of northern drums singing PRIMARILY southern songs. i dont care if a drum goes the other way everyonce and while, but to for a northern drum to sing PRIMARILY southern songs i dont agree with. the reason why is because i feel they should sing as a southern drum if all they are going to sing are mostly southern songs. i look at it as if a tradish dancer(wearing his bustle) is out there dancing like a grass dancer. or a jingle dancer (in her jingle dress)spinning around dancing like shes fancy shawl. it might seem like apples and oranges to someone else, but the way i see it if you set up and call your self a norhtern drum, sing like one. (like i said a southern song or two is not a big deal to me). (but now dont go and try to come up with some witty comparison saying that a norhtern dancer (in bustle) dancing grass for one song every other powwow is like a norhtern drum singing a southern song every once and a while. because then youd be stretcing it and then it would be apples and oranges :) i think if we could move these other questions in this topic about evolution, change, and orgins to its own topic that would be a good idea. I am always interested in hearing what people have to say about that. (dang, is there no spell check on this thing?)
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Old 06-28-2001, 03:21 PM   #15
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Howdy Two-Cents;
In the for what it is worth dept; The Arikara and the Pawnee were once the same tribe. About 20 generations ago, we moved north and they stayed. And yes, we still have the "old" songs. We try to keep contact with our relatives, we generally invite a Pawnee Drum up here for our celebration and people try and go down to their pow wow as well.

Personally, I don't think we sing that high on Ft Berthold, I think the Lakota sing alot higher than we do.
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Old 06-28-2001, 05:28 PM   #16
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Thanks for the info Sahnish. I thought it was something like that, but didn't want to assume cuz I didn't know for sure.

No, they don't sing that high in Ft. Berthold, but way higher than the southern drums.

My opinion on the topic at hand?

I think that a northern drum should sing primarily northern tunes. I think they should sing the songs of the tribe that they belong to. Isn't that the norm? Since songs that have words in them are composed in the language of the drum group, shouldn't they stick primarily to their own?
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Old 06-29-2001, 12:44 AM   #17
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There has been a great exchange of opinion and info in this thread!

Anyways, It used to be that drums sang in "their" language, but more and more drum groups nowadays have a mixture of tribes on them, so different languages are often used (Look at Tha Tribe, they have a huge mix of tribes represented).

Someone in the southern singing area said a while back that southern drums used to sing higher. Every now and then, a southern drum will belt out a song with relatively high pitch. Also, the hard beats on more contemporary southern tunes (S. Thunder) are more northern style than the typical southern 3-in-the-middle. New fad or retro?

By the way, there are still Ponca up north near the Ihanktonwan and Santee. Due to geography, they sing more like their neighbors, but I've heard their Oklahoma kin are trying to influence (taint?) them into being more like the OkiePonca.

This probably answered nothing, but I hope it can create more thoughts and discussion.

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Old 06-29-2001, 01:15 AM   #18
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Hey B,
You know I always wondered if it has something to do with the native american church, since it is so prevailant down in Okla. I wonder because the church songs sound southern style, so did southern style copy the native american church song style or did the church songs follow southern style.

Anyhoo
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Old 06-29-2001, 03:21 PM   #19
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Well, now I've just recently started travelling down past Denver to pow-wows thataway. I love the southern flair that everyone has, if thats what i'm hearing. I'm just trying to anwer the question as to the Northern singing southern.... I don't mind that the Northern drums sing southern style songs - if they sing them right. I remember in a dance off, Blackstone had our song and didn't do a very good job - switching beats every other verse and that wasn't cool. It was for a tie BREAKER!!! (I didn't win the tie :( ). Again, I don't mind hearing a good southern beat waaaayyy up in Saskatchewan but only if they do it right.
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Old 07-02-2001, 11:24 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sahnish:
<STRONG>In the for what it is worth dept; The Arikara and the Pawnee were once the same tribe. About 20 generations ago, we moved north and they stayed. And yes, we still have the "old" songs. We try to keep contact with our relatives, we generally invite a Pawnee Drum up here for our celebration and people try and go down to their pow wow as well.
.</STRONG>
Old man Adam Pratt, one of the late generation of Old Pawnee singers used to spend time in the North and traded & research songs with his Arickara relatives...good tunes all the way around.

As an aside, listening to wax cylinder
recordings that Densmore and others made from 1895 thru the 1930's, the singing style is generally in the normal vocal range both in the North and the South. Can't really place a time on the intro of the higher singing range in the North but it seems to have come on the scene by at least 1940 or between 1910 and 1944 when many songs were made for returning WWI & WWII vets. The daughter of Chauncy YellowRobe (Evelyn YellowRobe)married a German physician and after WWI she lugged a recorder all over Pine Ridge and Rosebud recording the new songs made for the returning Vets. In the 1950's the name Cappo Brothers seems to be instrumental in the spread of quality singing in the higher register. I strongly suspect this style filtered down from Canada
over the years, particularly from the Cree.
Many of the songs that hit the Summer powwow circuit in Oklahoma are really Northern compositions. Some of the older southern singers would take northern songs and add a few kinks & twists and introduce them in Oklahoma. Mac Whitehorse, et.al. took many of these popular northern tunes and put them in the Kiowa Ohomo Lodge. Others just started singing them and people liked to dance to them so they became the "top 10"...a new bunch of "top 10 tunes" every year. People liked them so much that individual singers gave the songs away to families or individuals. Some of the obscure Canyon Records recordings became a source for some of the southern guys. On the old Mesquakie Bear Singers album I know of at least three songs that were taken from there and given away as "new" compositions.
This is not to take away any credit from the old guys who had the remarkable ability to make songs among the southern tribes for each area, North and South, had some really gifted song makers. Their compositions have staying power whereas the "top 10" stuff fades away after one or two seasons.

Just my thoughts.
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