Navajo music is traditionally part of their culture’s ceremonial chants, echoing themes that endure throughout the generations. Modern genres that incorporate this element including rock, rap, and even country music. Artists perform in their native language and in English sometimes as well.
Traditional music is always vocal. There are instruments included with the chants, with drums, rattles, whistles, and rasps often part of the experience. The Navajo Nation has come to include flutes and the bullroarer as part of their composition as well. Even the drumsticks are useful in the creation of the sacred and holy songs.
Lyrics of Navajo Music
The lyrics of a song in Navajo music may take more than an hour to complete while the instruments accompany those who sing. These songs are usually performed in groups, offering an epic story that starts with the beginning of the world. There are lessons on morality, life balance, and phenomenology included in the words as well.
Many of the songs performed in Navajo music, either for a ceremony or for a modern recording, are often cyclical by design. There are 2-4 balanced parts, featuring active choruses that incorporate men’s and women’s parts. Combined singing occurs frequently in this culture as well.
Children’s Songs in Navajo Music
Most of the songs which children sing in Navajo music are about pets, livestock, or other animals. There can be lyrics that include family, games, or various activities as well. Although it seems like the structure of the music is different, the tunes are about the everyday life moments that each child experiences, making it similar to what the adult songs are.
Even when babies cry, the rhythmic songs help to sooth the infant to help the child go back to sleep Everyone from an early age is exposed to the melodies of Navajo music, which is why it is such a significant component of their culture.
Shoegame songs are another element of the Navajo Nation that is quite unique, with prominent singers offering their songs during the attendance of this moccasin game. Some communities even play against each other during the winter.
Navajo music traditions are steeped in history and a joy to hear in person. If you have the opportunity to attend a ceremony, festival, or game that includes their melodies, then take the opportunity because it will be a life-changing experience.