There are several characteristics that set Native American music apart from other genres.
The drum is often symbolized as the heartbeat of the people. The songs often start out slow and steady, and gradually grow faster.
Music is used to pass the time, is a part of all ceremonies and creates community. Flutes and rattles as well as drums play a part in making Native American music as beautiful and inspiring as it is. Flutes are often used during travel to keep oneself connected to “home.” Some tribes include the flute in prayer ceremonies. Many use the flute for courting and love songs.
Traditionally Native American music has distinct gender roles. Women will often be backup dancers or singers while the men take the lead role. The men tend to have more freedom in being able to dance individually and more vigorously, where women usually sway to the beat where they stand or slowly move in almost procession or parade form. There are traditional songs that only men or only women will be able to sing or perform.
The history behind every song is amazingly powerful. A clan or a tribal story and history is told and retold through their music. This ensures that their legacy will continue far beyond death because these songs are passed down from generation to generation. It is history passed from the elders to children, recorded without being written down.
If you are interested in hearing a song that is composed of only drums and flute, please listen to this: