Indigenous people who stay in Canada are known as Aboriginal community. These people have a diverse culture and tradition which believes that the ‘natural world’ is created by songs. Hence, it is said that, the aboriginal language has no word for music as it is an integral part of their lifestyle.
Music of these people is a part of their social as well as spiritual life. They practice a set of musical genres which are different like their songs and meanings. Music of ‘first people’ utilized drums, flutes and other traditional instruments to support the main element of vocals.
Social and ceremonial music are the two generalized types of Aboriginal songs. These musical types differed from clan to clan in dialects and meanings. Songs for sweat lodges, Midewiwin ceremonies and sun dances are some of the types which fall in the ceremonial category. However, it should be noted that, without the context of ceremonies too, these art forms were performed. Mainly concentrated on vocals, percussion instruments were also favored. Traditional music of aboriginal people from Canada believed that god helps them to compose melodies which they sing. Compositions of these people are divided into main two parts; one in which the individual compose the music and the other in which an individual receives the composition through dreams or vision. These songs are handed from generation to generation orally.
Aboriginal songs are often small and have single melody. These are repeated in a loop; the style of singing changes from individual (or group) to individual (or group) and chorus to chorus. Dance and drumming pattern were interconnected and change in one affected the other. Historians say that, after the Europeans visited the region, now known as Canada, a drastic change in culture was seen. European cultural influence dominated the aboriginal clans as they started to form their families with marriages with the aboriginal women. Most of them also started to follow European music, but many orthodox people came together and worked for preserving their culture.
The European influence also enriched the aboriginal culture. It supplied them new instruments, contemporary form of music and other vital elements which helped to sustain till today. Although, music was a part and parcel of aboriginal lifecycle, they mainly and promptly followed it during religious and sacred ceremonies more, rather than involving it as a festive or fun element. Songs related to death mourning dominated most of the culture followed by new-born ceremonies and other invoked activities.
Even today, the European influence is predominantly seen over indigenous Canadian culture. However, it is not the whole-and-soul, many instances shows the wealth of traditional aboriginal culture which makes us wonder the cultural heritage it has preserved.