Cover for VANDER: Songprints: The Musical Experience of Five Shoshone Women


The Musical Experience of Five Shoshone Women
Awards and Recognition:

2nd Place from the Pauline Alderman Prize for New Scholarship on Women in Music from the International Congress on Women in Music. Winner of an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, 1989.

Songprints, the first book-length exploration of the musical lives of Native American women, describes a century of cultural change and constancy among the Shoshone of Wyoming's Wind River Reservation. Through her conversations with Emily, Angelina, Alberta, Helene, and Lenore, Judith Vander captures the distinct personalities of five generations of Shoshone women as they tell their thoughts, feelings, and attitudes toward their music. These women, who range in age from seventy to twenty, provide a unique historical perspective on many aspects of twentieth-century Wind River Shoshone life.

In addition to documenting these oral histories, Vander transcribes and analyzes seventy-five songs that the women sing--a microcosm of Northern Plains Indian music. She shows how each woman possesses her own songprint--a song repertoire distinctive to her culture, age, and personality, as unique in its configuration as a fingerprint or footprint. Vander places the five song repertoires in the context of Shoshone social and religious ceremonies to offer insights into the rise of the Native American Church, the emergence and popularity of the contemporary powwow, and the changing, enlarging role of women.

Songprints also offers important new material on Ghost Dance songs and performances. Because the Ghost Dance was abandoned by the Wind River Shoshones in the 1930s, only Emily and Angelina saw it performed. Vander engages the two women--now in their sixties and seventies--in a discussion of the function and meaning of the Ghost Dance among the Wind River Shoshones. Thirteen Shoshone Ghost Dance song transcriptions accompany their accounts of past performances.

The distinctive voices of these five women will captivate those interested in music, women's studies, ethnohistory, and ethnography, as well as ethnomusicologists, Native American scholars, anthropologists, and historians.

A one-hour cassette of 26 songs from the field recordings of the Shoshone women is available separately from the University of Illinois Press and includes the following selections (performers and recording dates appear in parentheses):

Side 1

Naraya no. 2 (Emily and Dorothy, 8/8/1977)
Naraya no. 5 (Emily, 7/12/1978)
Naraya no. 10 (Emily and Dorothy, 8/8/1977)
Naraya no. 11 (Emily and Dorothy, 8/8/1977)
Women's Dance no. 1 (Emily, 8/8/1977)
Women's Dance no. 2 (Emily, 7/8/1978)
Wolf Dance no. 1 (Emily, 6/29/1979)
Naraya no. 13 (Angie, 9/18/1981)
Round Dance no. 8 (Angie, 9/22/1981)
War Dance no. 5 (Angie, 9/22/1981)
Handgame no. 1 (Angie, 9/22/1981)
Miss Ross's Hymn (Angie, 9/18/1981)
Flag Song no. 1 (Helene and Wayland, 8/17/1977)

Side 2

War Dance no. 7 (Helene and Wayland, 7/10/1978)
War Dance no. 8 (Helene and Wayland, 8/24/1981)
War Dance no. 9 (Helene and Wayland, 8/26/1981)
Round Dance no. 11 (Helene and Wayland, 8/17/1977)
Handgame no. 10 (Helene, 8/24/1981)
Handgame no. 12 (Helene, 8/24/1981)
"Humpty-Dumpty Heart" (Helene, 8/24/1981)
Honor Song for Bird Woman (Lenore, 9/19/1981)
War Dance no. 12 (Lenore, 9/16/1981)
War Dance no. 18 (Lenore, Coleen, JoAnn, and Linda Shoyo, 7/11/1978)
Round Dance no. 16 (Lenore, 9/23/1981)
Round Dance no. 17 (Lenore, Lottie, Coleen, JoAnn, Maxine, and Evalita Shoyo, 10/7/1983)
Forty-nine Dance no. 2, verses 3-5 (Lenore, 9/23/1981)

"An unusual contribution to the large body of literature dealing with Native American music and its cultural context. . . . It is interestingly written, includes considerable verbatim materials from interviews, and is readily accessible to the educated general reader."--Bruno Nettl, Choice

"Filled with information and insights that rarely surface in standard academic writing. . . . Destined to serve as a model of future investigations and will become a classic in the field."--William K. Powers, Journal of American Folklore

"Vander makes significant contributions to many areas, including ethnomusicology, women's studies, Native American studies, and cultural anthropology."--Charlotte J. Frisbie, author of Navajo Medicine Bundles or Jish: Acquisition, Transmission, and Disposition in the Past and Present

"This volume presents both musically and in cultural context the largest and finest corpus of Shoshone music on record. A second contribution is the abundant material on Shoshone women's culture in a changing, contemporary context. These materials are unique and have very few analogues in the entire literature on American Indians."--Demitri B. Shimkin, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"Vander makes significant contributions to many areas, including ethnomusicology, women's studies, Native American studies, and cultural anthropology. While choosing a format which puts major emphasis on the five women speaking for themselves, she sensitively balances their self-presentations with analytical comments, summaries, and comparisons designed for non-Shoshone, 'outsider' readers. Vander is to be congratulated not just for successful long-term fieldwork and involving her Shoshone collaborators in the end product, but also for sharing both them and what she has learned from them with the rest of us in such a refreshing way."--Charlotte J. Frisbie, author of Navajo Medicine Bundles or Jish: Acquisition, Transmission, and Disposition in the Past and Present

Judith Vander, an ethnomusicologist doing independent research in Ann Arbor, is the author of Ghost Dance Songs and Religions of a Wind River Shoshone Woman.

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