Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Browner, Tara. "'Breathing the Indian Spirit': Thoughts on Musical Borrowing and the 'Indianist' Movement in American Music." American Music 15 (Fall 1997): 265-84.

The "Indianist" composers of the period 1890-1920 took two approaches to the Native melodies that they used: music as raw material, and music as culture. Edward MacDowell used the Native melodies collected by Theodore Baker in his ‹ber die Musik der nordamerikanischen Wilden (1882). For MacDowell, these tunes were strictly raw musical material, with no reference or attention to tribal sources. Whatever cultural interpretation he made of the music is a generic one based on Lewis Henry Morgan's theory of "cultural evolutionary stages." Arthur Farwell's source of Native melodies came from the work of Alice Fletcher and Francis LaFlesche, whose research focused on the Omaha nation and dealt extensively with cultural context. Ultimately, the Indianist composers sacrificed cultural authenticity as a result of their attempt to make the music accessible for a consumer culture.

Works: Edward MacDowell: Second ("Indian") Suite, Op. 48 (268-71), Second Sonata (Eroica), Op. 50 (271); Arthur Farwell: American Indian Melodies: "The Old Man's Love Song" (277, 279).

Sources: Kiowa melody, collected by Theodore Baker: "Kiowa Song of a Mother to Her Absent Son" (269-71); Omaha melody, collected by Alice Fletcher: "Be-Thae Wa-An" (277-78).

Index Classifications: 1800s, 1900s

Contributed by: Felix Cox

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