Chapter 12: The Tradition of Drum-Dancing
The Tradition of Drum-Dancing
Hauser (2010) provides us with a very comprehensive account of drum-dancing and singing in the Thule area, and therefore just a brief summary of the tradition and its current status will be given here. The most salient comment to make is the regrettable demise of the tradition over such a short period of time. Hauser worked in the region in 1962 and collected over 300 songs. Today, it would be difficult to find much more than a handful of people who remember the songs and who play the drum for anything other than a commercial reason.
The generic term for drum-songs is inngerutin. The only songs that are remembered today are drum-songs related to a specific person and sung purely for entertainment. These are called piheq and were sung previously on festive occasions, often in connection with a meal. Piheq are traditional, pre-Christian songs, accompanied by a simple drum rhythm of three beats interspersed by a short rest. The first or third beat in the drum series tends to be accentuated and the drum is typically held in the left hand.
Drum song performances comprise singing, drumming and dancing. During the performance, the singer will often close or partially close his eyes and enter a sort of trance-like condition. The first description of the songs comes from Sir John Ross in his book, Voyage of Discovery (1819). He had come to the area in 1818 in...
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