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If you are interested in drums and singing!! WHO MADE UP THE TERM: "oLd StYle"?

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  • If you are interested in drums and singing!! WHO MADE UP THE TERM: "oLd StYle"?

    I have a couple of things to say and then a couple of questions.
    Hau Koda!
    I have been reading the different comments. I have a questions about who made up the term "old style"?
    who defined the term?
    and if a drum sings straight or "word songs", why is catagorized different by certain people.
    When we talk about "old style" are you talking about singing songs that were made, or composed hundreds of years ago?
    If a new straight song is made or composed today is it "contemporary" or "old style".
    Now when we go into worded pow wow songs.
    Worded songs have been in exsistance, since the begining of time, also. Our people had and have"word songs" for all occasions.
    NOw today,
    Many people make and sing straight (no words) songs and tell all of us that they are singing "old style".When they say this are they talking about "all nations". or just their own? and is that true?
    For word songs, if a person makes a word song today it is termed or labeled "contemporary". WHY?
    Because Sitting Bulls War Song had actual words in it, is it then considered "contemporary"?
    How can any one drum group, consider themselves the "right way to sing", and exclude other people(and thier drums) who may have been blessed with the talent of making their own songs? As far as what I understand the Dakota Nations have had both straight and word songs forever. I do not know about other Nations, unless everyone else's Tribe only sang straight songs since the begining of time? I don't think so.... But for alot of us, the whole thing does not make sense. This whole thing is started with the Groups that are self proclaimed "old Style" to identify themselves and push themselves up in the general publics eye and say "WE SING OLD STYLE", and they don't...The whole Dance celebration is "OLD", and we should be honored to take part in it. Quit putting others down and yourselves up, trying to look more then, and attempting to make others look "less then" you. Is it for money? Only pow wow singers will understand this comment and question? I am a singer, I have made both word songs and straight songs, as well as singing the songs that are passed down through our elders... We should be encouraging one another. I admire many other drums, their songs and their committment to keep our culture alive.
    When it comes to using alcohol and drugs while at a pow wow. They would disqualify princess's, and other positions in the communities. Alot of us make a committement to NOT use. There is a wide spread understanding about the effects of alcohol on our families, and our people. They should be disqualified, if they put themselves up to be judged for singing. In some areas they judge you on how CLEAN you keep your little area around the drum, WHY would we keep the ground clean but NOT ourselves.
    I guess they could participate, but don't enter any type of "contest" where you can be judged. You leave yourself and your drum open for comments. They (BattleRiver) have won MAny contests. Every where they go, they bring the legacy of their drinking. WE sit and listen to people call them names, say things about their drinking, and the focus is not of their abilities but of their weakness's.
    toksa` ake (sometimes again)
    Last edited by n8tiveson79; 09-14-2002, 11:38 PM.

  • #2
    n8tiveson79 - you make some very good points. I've used the term "old style Lakota songs" myself, so perhaps I owe it to make a stab at an explanation. I am fairly new in the powwow community, only starting my fifth season powwowing. Getting ready to dance, but I recently started singing with a group that sings "old style" music. What I mean by that (obviously many others will mean other things) is that our songs are mostly those that were handed down through several generations, many date from the time the Lakotas were at war with nearby tribes - could have been in the last 400 years but definately more than 110 years ago now. We also have some songs from fairly recent times, such as a Korean War honor song for Veterans, and songs that were made for more modern types of dances. Almost all of our songs are "word songs". But even in the fairly modern songs our style of music is consistent, voicing and rhythm and such, with the more historic songs that were handed down.

    As for lifestyle, none of us on our drum drink much, I don't at all anymore, and nobody does on days we are going to be together for practice or near powwow weekends. We have a rule that we do not talk about each other to others because that is how gossip and rumors are bred, and we do not speak negatively in public about other drums. We also do not compete, but have nothing against those who do. We respect our drum and others' because the salvation of our culture is in the drum.

    I probably know about the least about singing of most of the singers on this board, but that is my best shot. Hope it serves as a springboard for some more views.
    "Friends don't let friends drink decaf..."
    Wakalapi's $49 unlimited phone service


    • #3
      I dont really undersand the concept of "old style" myself. Todays contemporary Pow Wow refers to old style singing as having only vocables in their songs; no words at all. But where I come from, old style has always been considered "wordy songs." Old style down my neck of the woods is songs with words in them. Did I repeat myself there? :D But seriously....I dont understand that term myself. I just go with the flow. :Angel:


      • #4
        This is my view of how the term "old style" may have come into existance.

        Most pow-wow songs were straight. Not all were straight, but a good portion of them were. This was told to me by my elders, and was proven through the use of analog recording (tape). I know that in my tribe, there is only two old songs that I can think of that had words in them. All the rest were straight.

        Then, the word song exploded on the pow-wow scene and it became trendy to sing word songs. Soon people were making word songs left and right. Some of the current generation became more familiar with the notion of word songs being sang sky high than straight songs sang lower. So when they are exposed to drums like Mandaree or High Noon, they might say, "dang that is kickin it old style." Hence the label Old Syle cometh forth.

        Also, you gotta ask yourself, was there any drum groups that sounded like The Boyz or Eyabay back in 1973? Nope, probably not. Was there drums like Mandaree back in 1973? I bet there were. Since Mandaree's style was around long before The Boyz or Eyabay existed it would be contrued as Old Style.

        Yeah, it is sad that some people look down on a group because of the style they kick out. In the end it is all good. The people who criticize, well, that is on them, they will have to answer one day for putting down something good.

        (personally I like the way Mandaree, High Noon, and Midnite Express kick it.)
        It is so sad that a family can torn apart by something as simple as a wild pack of dogs.


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