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American Indian Musical Instruments

For many American Indian tribes, music weaves its way through the entirety of their cultural history. Alongside the complex vocal arrangements of American Indian song was the development of instruments, essential for the song but also striking in decorative details. Music was a popular communal activity, but its purpose among American Indian tribes went well beyond pure enjoyment.

Many tribes used their music as means of charting their oral history, putting into song the details we today would more commonly write down. Added to these songs were the use of instruments, such as drums, flutes, and rattles, which became integral to the tales these songs intended to relay. These instruments subsequently became a vehicle for artistic expression themselves. The stretched hide of drums, for instance, soon featured small motifs or figural representations. The result was a body of instruments as artistically elegant as the music they created, a beauty that persists today.


Quick Facts

  • American Indian flutes are among the oldest documented instruments in the world. Typically conjured from hollowed bone, these flutes have been discovered dating back several thousands of years
  • Drums, which have accompanied American Indian music for millennia, were considered by these cultures to allude to a heartbeat, both that of the body and of the earth
  • The courting flute gets its name from its supposed origins. Used by young suitors, the flute was intended as a means to attract and court eligible maidens

Recommended Items at Auction

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Vintage Native American Indian Drum and Rotten Belly Rattle
Dec 03, 11:00 AM EST
Vintage Native American Indian Drum and Rotten Belly Rattle
by Northgate Gallery
Est: $100- $25,000
$2505 Bids
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NATIVE AMERICAN TAOS THUNDERBIRD TWO SIDED HAND DRUM
Dec 03, 9:00 AM MST
NATIVE AMERICAN TAOS THUNDERBIRD TWO SIDED HAND DRUM
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$555 Bids
Fine Vintage Native American Indian Artist Signed Drum
Dec 04, 10:00 AM CST
Fine Vintage Native American Indian Artist Signed Drum
by Thriftiques of Iowa
Est: $10- $1,000
$212 Bids

Sellers Who Sell American Indian Musical Instruments


Northgate Gallery

Northgate Gallery

Bradford's

Bradford's

Thriftiques of Iowa

Thriftiques of Iowa