UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Gambling music of the coast Salish Indians Stuart, Wendy Bross


Slahal is a gambling game played by North American natives on the North Pacific coast. This activity is of particular interest to the ethnomusicologist because of the large body of songs which not only accompanies but also is intimately linked with it. The thesis which follows is a résumé of research done over the past two and one-half years and deals with the slahal songs of the Coast Salish. I begin with a description of the game itself the object of which is to guess the location of two tokens concealed in the hands of the opponents. We soon learn that gambling music, as one may say about music in general, has a certain power -- the ability to elevate the entire game experience into a different and more exciting realm than that of an ordinary game. The main bulk of the thesis is in the second part where I have presented 77 representative songs out of 194, transcribed from over twelve hours of music. Along with the songs are analyses and comments which are found in summary form in Part III. The concluding section touches upon the significance of slahal in present-day Indian culture.

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