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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Bella Coola Indian music : a study of the interaction between Northwest Coast Indian musical structures and their functional context Kolstee, Anton Frederik


The thesis attempts to fill one of the many gaps in the research of Northwest Coast Indian musics by providing the first study of Bella Coola songs as they have been preserved on tape. The work is based on my own field recordings and notes, the wax cylinder recordings and contextual reconstrucr tions of T.F. Mcllwraith, tapes made by the B.C. Indian Language Project, by Mildred Valley Thornton, by Philip Davis, and by the Bella Coola. themselves. Part One of the study describes the ethnographic context of the songs. A discussion of the situations in which they were used, the performance organization (principal performers, instruments and so on) with which they were associated, and the two types of compositional processes employed to create them is included. Part Two consists of an analysis of the music's structural characteristics. Modal and formal processes, drum rhythms, language-melody interactions, and style change (over a 51 year period) are examined. Dance, language, and histrionics played significant roles in determining certain of the music's attributes. The hierarchy of the music's structural characteristics was found to strongly reflect that of their functional categories. Finally, Part Three provides 73 original transcriptions that encompass a broad spectrum of the Bella Coola ceremonial and non-ceremonial repertoires.

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