various artists,
Peyote Ceremonial Songs
(Canyon, 1998)

Once you listen to Peyote Ceremonial Songs you will be able to recognize the distinct drumming sound of the peyote ceremonial music. The drum is a cast-iron container filled with water and covered with a buckskin head. The head is tied in place with a morning-star pattern during a sacred ceremony. As the drummer hits the head, the water vibrates, producing a unique resonance. The drummer holds his thumb against the head to maintain a constant pitch during play. When he releases the head, the tone will drop a fifth or more. There is no other drum that produces this sound.

The peyote ceremonial songs are also different from other types of Native American music in that they are softer and more introspective. They turn the listeners' attention inward, promoting the visions that accompany the peyote experience. These songs are sometimes solo and sometimes with full harmony. But the traditional style always features the drum and rattle heavily. Newer styles have dropped these percussion accompaniments. You will find the percussion featured in the traditional songs throughout this CD.

This is an especially soothing CD. It is ideal for relaxation after a hectic day. The drum and rattle will reach inside you and massage away your tension. The soft background humming style accompaniment in the first song will set the atmosphere for your listening experience. You will find this CD easily promotes journeying once you reach a relaxed state. I recommend you turn off the lights and assume a relaxed position when listening to it.

The selections and artists included on this CD are "Opening Prayer Song" (David Apekaun, Kiowa) "Morning Water Song" (David Apekaun), "Sunrise Song" (David Apekaun), "Peyote Song" (Wilbur Jack, Paiute), "Peyote Occasional Song" (Morris Medicine with Betty Jo Pimpey and Pamela Medicine, Cheyenne), "Peyote Occasional Song" (Morris Medicine with Betty Jo Pimpey and Pamela Medicine), "Peyote Spirit Song" (Chief White Eagle, Cherokee), "Omaha Morning Song" (Chief Spotted Back Hamilton), "Peyote Ceremonial Song" (Johnny Buffalo, Bannock) "Peyote Ceremonial Song" (Johnny Buffalo), "Omaha Prayer Song" (Chief Spotted Back Hamilton) "Midnight Water Song" (David Apekaun) "Our Father's Thoughts Are Shining Down" (Wilbur Jack) "Another Morning Song" (Chief Spotted Back Hamilton) and "Seven Peyote Songs" (Alfred Armstrong, Southern Ute, and Ralph Turtle, Southern Cheyenne).

You will note that there are two instances where two songs have the same title, "Peyote Occasional Song" and "Peyote Ceremonial Song." These are generic titles that indicate the type of song and are not specific titles. This is often the case with Native American ceremonial pieces.

This is an excellent CD for any Native American music enthusiast or student of musicology. It provides a strong survey of the traditional style peyote music.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 10 May 2003

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