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Trick Songs

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  • Trick Songs

    Are there certain songs that are designated as trick songs, or can the singers add a "trick" on any song? And if there are set songs, are the tricks set or are they up to the singers?

  • #2
    Alot of songs are trick songs per se. Personally, I am not a big fan of these types of songs but they seem common place now in todays big money dances.
    Some songs as I said are trick songs but it is up to the singers to pull them off correctly. One song comes to mind that sounds like it is going to end but continues on for about another half verse or so. The singers can sing it as a trick song, or simply as a straight song by how the end it. You can pick up the beat like you are going to end the song just before the first part of the tail and it sounds like it is going to stop when it actually keeps going, or just sing it straight and end it straight. So in that type of song, it's up to the singers.
    One trick song composed by Pee Wee Clark actually tells you it is a trick song in the words of the tail. It literally says ('Tail there is none/doesn't exist'). So if you speak Ponca, you know it is coming, otherwise I guess you are out of luck.
    Anyway, hope that helps a little and stirs up a conversation. What are others thoughts?
    Yer Friendly Moderator
    The responses are my own opinion and you know what they means.


    • #3
      In Houston (actually Pasedena is where the monthly powwows are held), the drums sometimes like to play a trick song just to get everyone going. It is really nice in a social setting, and gets everyone to chuckling when they have been had! Turns what could have been a hum drum Intertribal set into good fun!

      That's probably the only time you actualyl LAUGH at a trick song! *grin*



      • #4
        OK, let's clear something up right here. There REALLY are no 'trick" songs. The thing is, dancers have to know the song, and not rely on the cliche five beat (or three, whatever) ending. If you listen to the song, you will not be "tricked," (except for a few of those songs that are so tricky, the drum usually even screws them up).

        The point is....LEARN THE SONGS. That separates a good dancer from a great dancer. You usually don't see the experienced dancer miss a stop, unless it is a new song that they have yet to learn. Sure it's funny to see someone over step a stop, but it tells you something about that dancer...."They need to wear their head phones a little more!"

        I'm not saying I never miss a stop, but when I do, I make a point to try and learn that song a little better. if you get caught once, Oh well...twice, you have better listen a little more carefully...three times, you're not trying.

        I know that is a little harsh, but if you want to win..or be repected as a dancer, they are words to live by.


        • #5
          Powwow has an awefully good point here. It really just takes LISTENING to the songs. A lot of the folks that I meet couldn't stop on time if the drum didn't end the song with hard beats because they don't LISTEN! It is as simple as that. You should feel challenged by the fact that you overstep occassionally on songs that you don't know and learn them for the next time out. Once you make yourself listen to the songs more, the whole experience becomes more rich for you no matter what your motivation is. They are beautiful and have a lot of meaning if you try to learn them.
          Only my thought.
          Yer' Moderator...
          The responses are my own opinion and you know what they means.


          • #6
            I do know singers and dancers both that talk about "trick songs" quite a lot, and many are old seasoned veterans of the powwow who grew up with the ways. So, you say there are no trick songs, there are just singers and dancers who mess up?

            As for learning the songs, what about what Waxe had to say? If you learn the words, it actually tells you that it is a trick song.

            Maybe we should all just do some heavy research and come back with what we gather.


            [This message has been edited by FancyJingle (edited March 04, 2000).]


            • #7
              FancyJingle, you totally missed the point of what WaxeNuZhinga and I were talking about...

              The songs are "called" trick songs, but in reality they are are just songs that don't end the same as 95% of the other songs. The only trick to them is learning them. Once you know the song, where is the trick? It just becomes another song.

              If you asked the "seasoned Veterans" about this they will verify the fact. Just because something bears a particular name does not mean it is its reality.

              As for songs "telling you they are trick songs".... well that is fine for a few of them that do that, but most don't. Quite a few of them don't have any words in them at all. Others just sound like other wardance songs. If you can't tell from the 'lead' of the song that it is a "trick song" then there are a few other ways to pick it up before the drum stops (please share any other tricks people have).

              One is to listen to the end of the first verse, it often clues you in to the end of the song (not always, though). Another way is to listen carefully in the second verse for any areas that sound like the drum could stop. Another yet is a little more like cheating.... During the verse you think they are going to stop, WATCH THE HEAD SINGER. I know you REALLY shouldn't do this, but if you understand hand signals at the drum, you might pick up a clue. This usually doesn't work when the drum is experienced and is filled with people who always sing together, but normally, the head singer will make some sort of motion to tell other inexperienced singers, or others not used to singing with them, that there will be a stop coming. (so I cheat occasionally! sue me

              Also, I wasn't simply saying "there are just singers and dancers who mess up?"

              Yes, the dancers who miss the stops ARE SCREWING UP! Also, if you hear the drum stop, and then hear one or two EXTRA beats...then the drum has screwed up, too. Some "trick songs" are so complicated to stop, only very experienced singers will be able to successfully pull off the song. Certain songs should not even be attempted by inexperienced singers. Often, newer singers, or ones that just aren't very good, are asked to take their sticks off the drum during these more complicated songs.

              Just for the record, these type of songs do have other names, other than "trick songs". I know I've heard them called "stop songs." Has anyone else heard of other names for them?

              Well, I've said my peace.

              [This message has been edited by powwow (edited March 05, 2000).]


              • #8

                //One trick song composed by Pee Wee Clark actually tells you it is a trick song in the words of the tail. It literally says ('Tail there is none/doesn't exist'). So if you speak Ponca, you know it is coming, otherwise I guess you are out of luck.//

                It's not a "trick song". The words say "Get up! This is a Ponca song, with no tail"

                Nothing more, nothing less.
                Cat & Dog ...Another white meat.


                • #9
                  They can also make other songs into "trick
                  songs" if the head sing so desires. Round dance is one in particular.
                  Hope some of you have been lucky enough to have been taught by a head singer. There
                  is a "debate" down here about who rules the
                  dance - the head singer, the committee,
                  the arena director or the MC. I was taught that the head singer does with the help of
                  both the AD and MC. He does not ignore the committee but he controls that drum and the songs sung


                  • #10
                    I brought that up to simply make a point. The only thing I was trying to get across was the fact that we as general folks in this business pretty much don't know ANYTHING. I almost even disagree with FancyJingle's comment that collectively we'd all make one expert because that just ain't so. As for me, I don't know anything and I have come to grips with that and that is all that I was trying to say. Basically, we will never speak the language or know every song or stop on beat on every song. All we CAN do is try. Try to learn and do our best to understand and sometimes even that won't be enough. Atleast we can talk about these sorts of things here. But what do I know and who am I.... Nobody..... And I know it.....But I'm doing the best that I can............

                    [This message has been edited by WaxeNuZhinga (edited March 06, 2000).]
                    The responses are my own opinion and you know what they means.


                    • #11
                      All I can say to the above posting is that
                      I was taught that you never stop learning
                      not even when you pass over because the
                      ones that have gone before will continue
                      the teaching

                      [This message has been edited by Beth (edited March 06, 2000).]


                      • #12
                        I agree with Waxe & Beth (I even agree with what he disagrees with on what I said about one expert!). The fact of the matter is that we are all in a constant state of learning, and we are all willing to learn. I know of elders who will tell you that they are always learning, and finding out new things every day, even about their own culture!

                        We respect the information that others try to pass to us, and we all do our best to soak it up and use it. However, we ask that those who are passing the info on to do so in a respectable manner. Remember that not anyone knows enough on a given subject to presume that they are the expert, and that all others are merely ignorant. I think that Scott said it best in the Northern Traditional forum, when he said that he was taught that you do not punish ignorance. That is so true, and should be kept in mind here.

                        What you see expressed be the people here is not ignorance. Rather, it is a willingness to say that we don't something, and we want to learn. This forum is a chance for those of us who have been dancing for years to finally ask some questions that maybe we felt a bit insecure about to ask in person, and for those who are just starting, so that they don't have to feel embarrassed.

                        Mr. Ruminator, I have no doubt that you must know good deal about Southern singing, but please use a velvet glove when dealing with people here. Deal with us as you would with your peers at a powwow, because you know what? You never know when you may actually meet one of us, face to face, at a powwow in your corner of the country.

                        Waxe was right to point out that many of us will never learn ALL of the songs, nor the styles. There is no way that we can all learn Ponca, Osage, Kiowa, Comanche, etc. just so we can dance to the songs. It is just not possible, nor feasable.

                        Powwow is complicated enough, just remembering the protocols (which vary from region to region), and remembering how to just do our own dance steps. Now, you say that we have to learn all of the songs? Boy, I feel that is just way too much pressure for we meer mortals. We do our best, nothing more, nothing less.

                        Thank you,



                        • #13
                          I guess my goal here it to just defend everyone here. MrRuminator just wanted to make a note that the song that I mistakenly pointed out as a trick song is just a regular old song, just like the rest. I for one appreciate his comments and everyone elses around here as well. All this whole topic boils down to is are there 'trick songs' or just 'tricky songs'. Like we have all said before, just listen to the songs and appreciate them for what they are, just songs. If some happen to end differently than others, they are still songs. I for one am not a great singer but I love to sing. I love to sing mostly because I love to hear the songs sung and sung properly. I think they are beautiful. I listen to them everyday actually. In the car, at home, just about anywhere. So the general moral of the story is, just appreciate them for what they are. Also, appreciate everyone elses opinions here to, I know I do.
                          Yer Humble Moderator....
                          The responses are my own opinion and you know what they means.


                          • #14
                            "Mr. Ruminator...Deal with us as you would with your peers at a powwow,..."

                            LORD NO!!!! I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy!

                            Hey Ruminator, I hear you were in LI a few weeks ago (I have eyes and ears EVERYWHERE!!)

                            "Powwow is complicated enough, just remembering the protocols"

                            Huh? give yourself some credit. I have an Eight year old nephew who dances Grass, Fancy, Trad., and very soon straight...he sings on a a southern AND northern drum (and KNOWS the songs well).Granted he was brought up around a drum, but the fact is....HE'S EIGHT! Don't count yourself out until you pour your heart into it.


                            • #15
                              Powwow is right, I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy either
                              The responses are my own opinion and you know what they means.


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