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date: 17 January 2020


  • Robert W. Rhodes
  • , revised by J. Richard Haefer


Native American Pueblo tribe of northern Arizona. Music is an integral part of Hopi culture; as recently as three or four generations ago there were songs to accompany virtually every activity. As the Hopi Reservation entered the modern era, however, many songs ceased to be sung and remembered. Contemporary Hopi music may be divided into three categories: sacred ceremonial music, secular ceremonial music, and children’s game or utility music. The number of children songs is diminishing, but ceremonial songs are in regular use and continue to be composed. Religious ceremonies of the Hopi use songs to communicate with spiritual forces, to tell stories, myths, and legends, and to accompany ceremonial dances. Secular ceremonies consist principally of preparation for and performance of ceremonial dances.

Most Hopi men compose ceremonial songs. Some keep their music secret; a Hopi may work on a song for several years before revealing it to others. During preparation for a ceremony an individual sings his song for the performance group, which then learns it, modifies it as needed to fit the situation as hand, dances to it, and sometimes further modifies it to make it more suitable for actual performance. This collective revision process or communal composition ensures that all are familiar with the song and that it will fit the ceremonial function for which it is intended. Once the song is at this stage it is no longer thought of as belonging to an individual, though its source is still recognized; it may in fact be used in other situations or adopted without the composer’s permission....

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