Music Across Canada:

We are still on our Saskatchewan stop on our trip across Canada. We are going to continue looking at the drum and the important role it has in Cree and other Indigenous Culture. 

First, to warm up our drumbeat heartbeat, standing very still, put your hand on your heart and see if you can feel it.

Speak what you hear softly - "Boom-boom boom-boom."

You will all be saying "boom" at different times, now stop listening to your own heartbeat and try to listen to the person beside you and say "boom-boom" at the same time as they are. Listen and sync up your booms until you are saying "boom-boom" softly at the SAME TIME. 

Saskatchewan: 

 

One of the most important things in the life of a Native American is the Drum. Our whole culture centers around the Drum. Without the Drum and the singers around it, the Native Americans could not have pow wows. The Drum brings the heart beat of our Earth Mother to the pow wow for all to feel and hear. Drumming brings everyone back into balance. Whether dancing , singing, or just listening, people around the Drum can connect with spirit. 

Songs are started with a lead line sung by the head singer. This lets the Drum and the dancers know what song is coming. After the lead line, the second (another person at the Drum) will take up tha lead line, and everyone will join in with him. At this point the dancers begin to dance. The loud beats during the songs, sometimes called “honor beats” are a time for dancers to honor the Drum. In Northern Singing, these beats are generally during the verses. For Southern Singing, the honor beats are generally between verses.

The head singer has the first and last word and has complete control of what goes on at the Drum. He must know many songs.

Buffy!!! 

A few facts about Buffy Sainte-Marie. . . (for the source, you can see the site here.)

A member of the Cree Indian tribe, Buffy Sainte-Marie was born on a reservation in Qu'Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan, Canada. She was orphaned when she was born sometime in 1941 or 1942. Then she was adopted by a Massachusetts family named Sainte-Marie that was partially of Mi'kmaq Native American descent.

She began to teach herself piano at 3 years old and started setting her poems to music at 4!

She used to experiment with all kinds of sounds and was interested in listening and making music however she could, by banging pots and pans together, or even using a broken vacuum cleaner's tubes as homemade headphones for her old record player!

She was always singing, and after moving to New York and being discovered by Bob Dylan in a café, she put out a record in 1964 called "It's My Way."

She did a lot of work and had a lot of good and bad times being a famous singer, she helped her friends, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, who were also Canadian, be heard by important music industry professionals and they became famous as well!

She only used the money she made to feed herself and live simply and put the rest of her earnings into charities to help other Indigenous young people go to Universities and get a good start in life. 

Buffy was on Sesame Street from 1976-1981 and taught kids all over about Indigenous traditions, beliefs, and songs. 

She has done all kinds of music, art, acting, and won awards for much of what she did, and now, after over 50 years of being in the music industry, she lives on a farm in Hawaii with 27 goats, a cat, and a retired horse. 

She is a real Canadian hero.

This is a song called "You Got to Run," from Buffy Sainte-Marie from Saskatchewan, can you hear the part of the chorus that sounds like the drum's circle song? (Above)

The other rhythmic sound you hear is Tanya Tagaq's throat-singing that is a percussive type of singing coming from the Inuit people in the NorthWest territories and Nunavut.

Now, sitting in the cirlcle and using the ground as your drum, can you try to follow the beat of the song and sing "Way-oh-way-oh-ya-hey-ya-ya. . . " like in Buffy's song above? 

Drums and Percussion

While we're listening to drums, it's a good time to explore the way  we use percussion and drums in classical music!

Here are the percussionists from Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra talking about what they do.

 

You can explore the percussion section of the Orchestra by following this guide and clicking on "percussion" in the activity box. See if you can recognize the instruments there and mimic the sound it makes.

You can find other activities and games and quizzes about the orchestra here!

https://brittenpears.org/explore/benjamin-britten/music/young-persons-guide/ 

Leave Alight

You said everything was going to be alright

Is it going to be alright?

Cause we're living in the sea.

I think realism is so dreary.

So I'm living in a dreamworld,

And I'm sleeping through the night.

 

But you leave a light alight.

And I'll leave a light alight.

And together we will live

Lives that are illuminated.

But you leave a light alight.

And I'll leave a light alight,

And I hope that we will live

Lives that are illuminated.

 

You said everything was going to be alright

Is it going to be alright?

Cause we're living in the sea.

I think my dreamworld's too silly

Looking for a little reality

But it's not as bright.

 

But you leave a light alight.

And I'll leave a light alight.

And together we will live

Lives that are illuminated.

But you leave a light alight.

And I'll leave a light alight,

And I hope that we will live

Lives that are illuminated.