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Indigenous Music of the Americas

A Guide to Music of Native Americans in North, Central and South America


Selected Books and Scores

Please note that an "r" indicates a reference title that can be used in the library. Titles with both circulating and reference copies are signified by "(r)" in the call number.


Densmore, Frances
The American Indians and their music
q ML3557.D353 2006x
It is worth noting that Frances Densmore was one of the first American scholars to document and record the music of several North American tribes. Her publications date from 1913 until her death in 1957. An Author Search will bring up more titles from the 2006 reprint editions of her works as well as other books.
Ench, Rick
North American Indian Music
ML3557.E53 2002
The Garland handbook of Latin American music
q ML199.G36 2000
Includes sections about Native American cultures of Mexico, Central America and South America plus a compact disc with musical examples. Articles have been reprinted from the "Garland Encyclopedia of World Music", vol. 2.
Gombert, Greg
The Native American Music Directory
r ML156.4.F5 G66 2004x
Nettl, Bruno
North American Indian musical styles
r 970.6 N24


Browner, Tara
Heartbeat of the people: music and dance of the northern pow-wow
E98.P86 B76 2002

Chazanoff, Daniel (compiler)
Music of the Native North American for the flute or recorder
q M1669.M878 1990x

Chazanoff, Daniel (compiler)
Native American music, in seven volumes: for the flute or recorder, with drum/rattle ad. lib.
M1669.N38 1993x

Eckels, Steven Zdenek
Mel Bay presents music of the North American Indians for acoustic guitar
q M128.M33467 2000x

Fletcher, Alice C
Indian games and dances with native songs; arranged from American Indian ceremonials and sports
(r)E98.G2 F6 1970

Hofmann, Charles
American Indians sing
q 784.4 H68am

Hofmann, Charles
War whoops and medicine songs
q 784.4 H68

Levine, Victoria Lindsay (editor)
Writing American Indian music: historic transcriptions, notations, and arrangements
q M2.3.U6 R4 vol. 44

Moore, Gerald (arranger)
Native American tunes: in three and four part settings for SAT & SATB, for recorders or flutes
q M178.M56 N3 1991x

Speckert, George A. (arranger)
Indian chants: for strings
q M553.I53 2007x

Vames, John
The Native American flute: understanding the gift: an interactive guide for learning to play
qMT358.N38 V35 2007x


Selected Videos and DVDs

Into the circle: an introduction to Native American powwows
Dan G- Pow

The world of American Indian dance
(DVD) E98.D2 W67 2003x


Selected Compact Discs

Authentic music of the American Indian
COMPACT DISC Fo Aut #34168

Creation's journey: Native American music

Black Eagle
Voice of the drum : a collection of hand drum & round drum songs

Gathering of Nations 2000: millennium celebration
COMPACT DISC Fo Gat #18094 v. 1
COMPACT DISC Fo Gat #18094 v. 2

Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, 1999: various drum groups
COMPACT DISC Fo Gat #19629

Heartbeat: voices of First Nations women
COMPACT DISC Fo Hea #10379

Heartbeat 2: more voices of First Nations women
COMPACT DISC Fo Hea #15563

Lil' Bear Singers
Native American Indian

Nakai, R. Carlos
Mythic dreamer: music for Native American flute
COMPACT DISC Na Nak #19368

Northern Cree Singers
Northern Cree and friends. Vol. 5: long winter nights : round dance "live!"

The rough guide to Native America

Rough guide to Native American music
COMPACT DISC Fo Rou #15909

Songs of earth, water, fire, and sky: music of the American Indian

Talking Spirits: Music from the Hopi, Zuni, Laguna & San Juan Pueblos.

Wood that sings: Indian fiddle music of the Americas
COMPACT DISC If Woo #15963


Using Subject and Keyword Searches

The materials listed above are literature about or collections of general works of Native Americans. If you are looking for music of a specific region in the Americas or of an individual tribe, you may wish to use subject or keyword searches. The searches below are just a few examples to get you started.

Subject Search

You can use a Subject Search (includes terms "Music" or "Music History and Criticism"):

Indians of North America Music or
Indians of North America Music History and Criticism
Indians of South America Music
Indians of Central America Music
Indians of Mexico Music

To narrow by region/country:

Indians of North America Canada Music
Indians of North America Great Plains Music
Indians of North America Saskatchewan Music
Indians of North America Southwest, New Music
Indians of Mexico Mexico Baja California Music
Indians of South America Peru Music
Indians of South America Peru Lima Dept Music

To Narrow by State:

Indians of North America Arizona Music
Indians of North America California Music
Indians of North America New York (State) Music
Indians of North America Wisconsin Music

To Narrow by Tribe:

Choctaw Indians Music
Inuit Northwest Territories Music
Shoshoni Indians Music History and Criticism
Zuni Indians Music

If you need help with names of North American tribes, this page from the Library of Congress American Memory Project gives a list of tribe names by geographic region:

Keyword Search

An Advanced Keyword search may also be useful, especially if you need to begin with a broad topic and narrow to one that is more specific.

For example, if you are looking for dance music from tribes of North or South America on a compact disc, you could use a search in this manner:

indians AND dance AND america
(type each term into a separate search box… using the plural of "Indian" and the term "America" will increase your number of hits)

Use the pull-down menu to limit to "Music CD." You can also limit by location if you wish.

Another example… you are looking for songs, texts or printed music, of North American tribes, just some general ideas. You could use this search technique:

indians AND songs AND north america (again, each term in a separate box)

Use the pull-down menu to limit to "Books" and "Music Scores"… the shift key will allow you to highlight both (sometimes printed music is found in general books about Native American music and some poetry books contain texts of traditional songs).

You can use the Keyword feature to find music for a specific instrument, a type of song (e.g. war, ceremonial, medicine), or for terms such as "chants" or names of animals (an important part of Native American culture).

If you need any assistance with your catalog searching, just ask a librarian!

One last important tip:
Many materials about Native American music may not be in the Music Department. You may also wish to ask a librarian about materials found in American History and Anthropology (subject areas in the Reference Services Department) or the Children's Department.


Online Listening and Websites

  • Smithsonian Global Sound
    Click here for remote access with a Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh library card.
    This streaming audio website includes recordings from the Smithsonian Folkways label. You can browse by the "American Indian" category or search the site for more music of Native Americans.
  • National Museum of the American Indian
    This museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is a wonderful resource for information about North American tribes. Their media archive includes audio recordings on wax cylinders, phonograph discs, audio tapes, and compact discs. If you plan a visit, their events calendar will inform you of scheduled live performances.
  • National Geographic
    Click on their "Music" link, and you can explore the indigenous music of the Americas by searching this page. Includes sound files.