Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Grove Music Online. Grove is a registered trademark. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 16 September 2019


  • David P. McAllester
  • , revised by Anne Dhu McLucas


Native Americans of northwestern, north-central, and southeastern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona, the southern Plains, and northern Mexico. Numbering about 53,330 (according to the 1990 census), they are divided into six tribes, all southern Athapaskan: Jicarilla, Lipan, Kiowa-Apache, Mescalero, Chiricahua, and Western Apache (of whom four internal subdivisions are recognized: White Mountain, San Carlos, Cibecue, and Tonto groups). All speak Apachean dialects closely related to the Athapaskan language of the NAVAJO, and, more distantly, to Athapaskan languages in Oregon, California, and Canada. In many respects the Apache culture is a conservative form of the way of life of their Navajo neighbors. This similarity extends in some respects to their music.

Like that of almost all Native Americans, the traditional music of the Apache is almost entirely vocal, often with rattle or drum accompaniment. A chorus–verse–chorus alternation, an old Athapaskan musical form, is found in most Apache traditional music, both popular and sacred. The Apache vocal style is strikingly nasal and rises to falsetto in some of the highly melodic choruses. The verses, more like chants, are sung with a choppy, almost parlando delivery. Some syllables are sharply emphasized and others suddenly muffled or swallowed. The tonal system very often incorporates major or minor triads. Choruses utilize triadic shapes as well as octave leaps. When singing together, the ensemble is loosely unison, with much individual variation allowed....

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Please subscribe to access the full content.