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Posted by on Mar 23, 2015 in American | 0 comments

Native American Musical Instruments: Flutes and Drums

Native American Musical Instruments: Flutes and Drums

The drum and flutes is one of the oldest instruments believed to have been brought to life at the time fire was discovered. In this article, we've shared two american musical instruments.

Music plays an integral role in the lifestyle of Native Americans. It is used for ceremonial uses, recreation, expression, and therapeutic. There are many different instruments used when generating Native American music, which includes drums, flutes, and various other percussion instruments. Perhaps an important element of their music may be the voice.

Vocals include the backbone of the music made in Native American cultures. Unusual, irregular rhythms and a somewhat off-key design of singing is used. Simply no harmony is ever incorporated, although sometimes many people sing at a time, and other times this vocals are solo. This Native American vocals are usually passionate, used to invoke mood, ask for rain or perhaps healing, or are utilized to heal the sick. In most cases, the men and women in the tribes sing separate melodies, and have their unique dances. The men typically dance around in the circle, while the women usually dance constantly in place.

Native American Flutes and Drums Instruments:

Native American Drums

Native American Drums

There are many different types of Native American instruments. Keep in mind that there are many different Native American nations and tribes, and even within specific peoples, there may be variations based on location. Therefore, these instruments are listed only as a generality, not to be seen as instruments used by all Native peoples.

The Drums:

Water Drum: The native American drums also include the water drums. Their body is made of different materials, iron kettle being one of them. In this, a moist, tanned animal skin is stretched across a small wooden vessel containing water. The other common type of water drum that is popular among the Yaqui, a native American tribe, consists of a large, dried hard shell and a gourd floating in water. When the gourd is struck, the shell sends out vibrations into the surrounding water that amplifies the vibrations and produces the beats.

Frame Drums: While the skin drum needed to be set up and stretched before every use, the frame drum was a similar mechanism, but portable. It consisted of a wooden frame about 4-inches deep by as much as 30-inches long, and an animal skin that was tightly stretched and sewn into place on it. It frequently had a handle for carrying as well so it could be easily transported.

Log Drum: Like the frame drum, the log drum is meant to be used over and over, while being portable without dismantling. Instead of a frame that was built for the purpose, however, the log drum consists of a skin that was tightly stretched and stitched onto a hollow log. The logs may have been of nearly any size or dimension to vary the sounds produced.

Square Drum: The square drum is another portable, permanent drum made by stretching an animal skin onto a frame, or – in this case, a wooden box. Square drums were made primarily by peoples that lived on the Pacific coast, and were frequently made from cedar. Some square drums were large enough that several men could be seated inside, while others were smaller, handheld versions.

The Flutes:

Native American flutes are the only flutes in the world that have just two chambers with a wall dividing the top chamber and the bottom chamber. A traditional flute is made according to the body measurements of the flutist.

Native American Flute

Native American Flute


The length of the flute is equal to the distance between the armpit and the wrist, and the length of the top air chamber is equal to the width of the player’s fist. The distance between the whistle and the first hole and that, between the last hole and the end of the flute is equal to the width of a single fist of the flutist. The other holes are one-thumb width apart.

Material Used

The material used for making these flutes range from hardwoods of the walnut and cherry to the softwoods of cedar, redwood and juniper. The softwoods were more preferred as these provide a softer tone to the melody of the flute. Clay, bamboo and bones of birds were also used to make these flutes. However, the construction of these flutes, for example: the length and the number of holes, varied according to the tribes they belonged to.

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