Posted: February 17th, 2022

The Native American Music






Native American Music


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Background of the artist or band

Pamyua is a band made of four people, Stephen Blanchett and Philip Blanchett being the core founders of Pamyua, the other two members are Ossie Kairaiuak and Karina Møller. Brothers Stephen Blanchett and Philip Blanchett formed the musical group in 1995 with an aim of preserving their cultural and religious knowledge and background through music since they are of Inuit and African- American origin. The pair quickly began sharing their performances and cooperating with other musicians in Alaska. Later that same year, Ossie Kairaiuak became a permanent part of the family. Karina Moeller joined the company on a long term basis in the spring of 1996. Currently, the foursome collaborates with international performers from Alaska and Denmark, and they travel the world to share their unique combination of multicultural harmonization.

Ossie, also known as Aassanaaq, is a witty Yup’ik dancer and brilliant writer of Pamyua’s most popular songs. His most popular song is the upbeat Bubble Gum music video. Ossie grew up in Cheforna and currently resides in Anchorage. He is a professional Yup’ik drum maker as well as an artist.

Karina Moeller is a fiery performer with a powerful voice. She enjoys sharing Inuit-themed songs. She grew up in Greenland and currently resides in Copenhagen, Denmark. Karina writes and produces music for Pamyua and plays with the organization on specific celebrations..

Songs or music heard 

One of the Pamyua’s most recognized songs which was a traditional interpretation song was Cayauqa Nauwa from the Mengluni album in 1998, which was performed as a cappella. Pamyua’s song’s include the album Side A/Side B, which has Bubble Gum, Ocean prayer, Drums I carry, Pulling, the sitting to each other, Bulldozer and Halibut Songs. 

Mengluni album, also known as the beginning, comprises of songs such as Tarvanmauramken, Cauyaqa Nauwa, Unuganga, Reindeer herding Song, Uivaaraana, Lullaby and Cauyaqa.

The other famous album is called Drums of the North, which comprises of Qalurru, Tamualua, Cayuurlakunguur, Marualrianek, Unani Imapigmiqaa, Emerpak-qaa, Ayagnera Marualrianek and Ayagnera Cayuurlakunguur.

Verses-Apallut album also had some nice songs that went viral, among them is Emerpak-qaa Qavarartua, Qaluurru, Siku, Prayer Dance, My little child, and Similar realities. 

A discussion of the musical genre and the instruments played

Pamyua’s Music is mostly considered tribal funk and Inuit soul music, however, it is very mixed up; from being influenced by Russian Orthodox chants, traditional Inuit music, some R&B vibes and most notably, South African male choral group called Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which I find very similar to Pamyua in different ways when it comes to discussing traditional preservative music. The earliest inspiration was from the African American gospel that was played in their father’s church in Wasilla, Alaska. The musical band writes their songs from inspiration based on traditional Yupik, Inuit and Greenlandic chants, and the Pacific Islander influences, but the band has come to be well recognized for their interpretation of such music into modern styled music.

Pamyua showcases Inuit culture though music and dance performance. The show is a platform to share indigenous knowledge and history. Their style derives from traditional melodies reinterpreted with contemporary vocalization and instrumentation.  Often described as “Inuit Soul Music,” Pamyua has discovered their own genre.

Other performance elements such as dances added visuals fashion regalia

Instrumentation, such as the Cauyaq drum, and mask dance, which evokes and commemorates indigenous Yup’ik dancing, are essential components of their staged shows. The Yup’ik Dance also known as Yuraq or Yuraqing, is a traditional Inuit dance that is organized in a very specific but traditional manner to preserve the culture. Basically, all the men are supposed to be kneeling at the front and the women standing behind them facing the same direction, the drummers are in the very back of the dancers. 

During the dances, the masks called Kegginaquq was an important feature in Yuraqing ceremonial dances. The Kegginaquq is typically made of wood, and painted some different colors. Some of the masks might have been made by women but they were mainly supposed to be men’s work. The Kegginaquq masks can be small three inch finger masks or maskettes, to big masks that are carried by up to seven people. It is very important to note that mask dancing was banned by the introduction of Christianity into Yupik villages, therefore, the dances are not practiced as they used to be practiced since Christians considered it a form of Idolatry. Pamyua’s music and traditional dances can bring mask dancing back to life by preserving the cultures and knowledge on the dances and the attire to be used such as the Kegginaquq. 

Interaction with the audience, the venue or performance space, narrative of the performance

The band, as can be observed in their first video; Alaska Originals, interact with the audience whenever they are given a chance to. The band performance space needed when doing their performances in this video is no much, they can be observed using only their hands in a choreographic move pattern when singing along. The Band members try and explain in detail what the narratives of each song performed is. One of the brothers, at the end of the first performance, tries to explain what emotions the song carry and what it means.

In some performances, they setup a real act with different attires and roles to play with different stories to tell, then, they need large spaces and long hours of practice in preparation of their acting.


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