Music is an important aspect of life for most Indian tribes. Native American music has been around for centuries. It is a popular form of expression during times of celebration, religious ceremonies, and as an aid for healing the sick. Although singing is the core of most musical presentations, there are various instruments that have been used since early times.
The drum is one of the most popular instruments used in Native American music. Perhaps one reason for this is the materials needed for construction were easily accessible. Although different types of drums were perfected by the various tribes, all used similar materials such as animal hide and wood. Traditional Native American drums were very large in size, built to accommodate several players at once.
Flutes were also played to accompany singers of Native American music. A flute could be constructed out of various materials including: bamboo, bones, clay, or several types of wood. The design of the flute varied as much as the materials used. There were many variations in the length and width of the flutes from tribe to tribe.
Rattles are another type of instrument used by Native American tribes. Two of the most commonly used materials to build a rattle were turtle shells and gourds. Both could be easily cleaned out and filled with sand or stones to make a unique sound.
Another less popular type of rattle was constructed from deer hooves. After placing several holes in the rattles handle, deer hooves were carefully inserted and positioned so that they touched one another. The result was a much different sound than that of a rattle filled with sand or stones.
Many of the traditional instruments used in Native American music are still available today. Both the early Native Americans and those today pride themselves upon producing instruments and other types of artwork with their hands.