Navajo is a traditional music that is always vocal and is sung with almost all the instruments that include drumsticks, rattles, rasp, flute, whistle and bullroarer. These instruments are used in singing special types of songs. In 1982, there were even 1000 singers who were taught to perform on ceremonies and religious festivals more than one time..
These singers were also known as ‘Medicine People’ as they would create beauty in the world, and good health for people, serenity and balance by the sweetness in their singing. The most sacred holy songs, the lyrics consisted of spiritual literature were known as the classical music whereas the other kind of songs that include personal, songs on nation, comedy songs, love songs and songs on fun were known as popular music.
The popular songs were sung in the public places in their functions and ceremonies whereas the classical songs were only performed at the holy places. The ceremonies lasted up to ten days and they would keep performing rituals that restore balance between good and evil or positive and negative forces. The hataalii use to perform songs to call upon the Navajo gods and natural forces to hear a sick person and they also used some healing tools to heal that person.
The songs that lasted for more than one hour were usually sung in groups. The songs sung on women tell us that how a girl is born in the spring grows out to be a young girl in the summers and then becomes an adult in autumn and then an old lady in the winter. These songs are so melodious that they show the life cycle o a girl over and over again. The songs sung on the boys consist of the songs like the Hero Twins, Monster Slayer and Born-for-the-Water.
The songs also tell us that how these boys try and get rid of giant and evil monsters from this world. The songs that followed one after the other immediately were created from the complex repetition of more than four or five phrases. The songs of children were sung on animals, such as pets and livestock. The songs were about the family members and the songs on child’s daily life routine.
The mothers used to sing song for their children when they used to try from which the children also learnt to sing songs from their childhood. The mothers also taught their children the songs and prayers for self-protection from bad things and other evils in Navajo traditions. The songs that were sun for the children usually start with chanting and then followed by at least one paragraph of lyrics and again ended the song with the same chant.
All the traditional songs were sung with chants. The Christmas songs and the nursery rhymes dido on have lyrics in them but they were singing with specific type of chants. Today both type of songs y be depending on the knowledge and ability of the particular teacher. The songs were a major part of Navajo culture..