Music

THE music of the early Indian nowhere appears to be better pre-
served than in New Mexico, where, among the Pueblo, Navaho,
and Apache Indians, it has been handed down by rote from one
generation to another from prehistoric times. Since Indian music is
not characterized by Western concepts of harmony, no comparison with
European music is possible. To ordinary white ears, says D. H. Law-
rence, the Indian's song sometimes sounds like a rather disagreeable
howling around the drum.

Singing, to the Indian, like dancing, is part of ceremony, part of
ritual. Against the backdrop of the mesas and the mountains, in the
center of the plaza of his pueblo, the Indian sings as he dances for
rain, for favor in the hunt, to make the corn grow.

Lawrence, who lived for many years in Taos, describes a Taos
Indian dance as follows:

"The Indian singing, sings without words or vision. Face lifted
and sightless, eyes half closed and visionless, mouth open and speechless,
the sounds arise in the chest. He will tell you it is a song of a man
coming home from the bear-hunt: or a song to make rain: or a song
to make the corn grow: or even, quite modern, the song of the church
bell on Sunday morning. . . .

"The dark faces stoop forward, in a strange race-darkness. The
eyelashes droop a little with insistent thuds. And the spirits of the
men go out in the ether, vibrating in waves from the hot, dark, inten-
tional blood, seeking the creative presence that hovers forever in the
ether, seeking identification, following on down the mysterious rhythms
of the creative pulse, on and on into the germinating quick of the maize
that lies under the ground, there, with the throbbing, pulsing, clapping
rhythm that comes from the dark, creative blood in man, to stimulate
the tremulous, pulsating protoplasm in the seed-germ, till it throws
forth its rhythms of creative energy into the rising blades of leaf and
stem."

For every occasion there is a song and a dance; the Indian repertoire
is as extensive as that of the white man. In some ceremonies lasting
several days, definite groups of songs are sung, with only rare instances
of repetition. Among these are the Shalako of the Zuni, the Yebechai
of the Navaho, and the corn dance of the Santo Domingo Pueblo,