PASSAGE I The Music of the O’odham
For some people, traditional American Indian music is 1. associated and connected
with high penetrating vocals accompanied by a steady drumbeat. In tribal communities in the southwestern United States, however, one is likely to hear something similar to the polka-influenced dance music of northern Mexico. The music is called “waila.” Among the O’odham tribes of Arizona,waila has been 2.popular for
more than a century. The music is mainly 3.instrumental-the bands generally
consist of guitar, bass guitar, saxophones, accordion, and drums.
Unlike some traditional tribal music, waila does not serve a religious or spiritual purpose. It is a social 4.music that performed
at weddings, birthday parties, and feasts.The 5. word itself
comes from the Spanish word for dance, baile.6.Cheek to cheek, the dance is performed to the relaxed two-step tempo,
and the bands often 7. play long past
midnight. As the dancers step to the music, they 8. were also stepping
in time to a sound that embodies 9. their
unique history and suggests the influence of outside cultures on their music. 10.
The O’odham 11. in the 1700s
first encountered the guitars of Spanish missionaries. In the 1850s the O’odham 12.have borrowed
from the waltzes and mazurkas of people of European descent on their way to California. In the early 1900s the O’odham became acquainted with marching bands and woodwind instruments 13.(which explains the presence of saxophones in waila).
Around this time the polka music and button accordion played by German immigrant railroad 14.workers;
left their mark on waila.
It should be no surprise that musicians these days are adding touches of rock, country, and reggae to waila. Some listeners fear that an American musical form may soon be lost. But the O’odham are playing waila with as much energy and devotion as ever. A unique blend of traditions, waila will probably continue changing for as long as the O’odham use it to express their own sense of harmony and tempo.