Rattle Songs


Gold Member
I've been thinking a lot about new world cultural contributions/appropriations. Blues, Rock, Salsa etc. I turned an eye towards the mid-Atlantic region. It's kind of difficult to discern, because there isn't much in they way of modern culture here one way or another. The Jazz district in DC is on life support, the burbs are a waste land. So, I started looking at the musical history of the Native Americans in the region... again not much to go on. The one thing that showed up were rattles, graded and pitched rattles of bottle guords and turtle shells. Then I started working on it from the other end. The mid-Atlantic region was recently culturally influential. There was swing. Now swing is pretty unique to the New World, and the Eastern United States in fact. According to my Ballroom dance instructor the swing dance wasn't known in Europe until WWII soldiers brought it over. So, back to the Natives. If I look up any tribes in the region they are all pow wow drums... But, where are the rattles? I thought about it a little more, but Indians in the north lived in houses they must have had some indoor entertainment. So, I went to YouTube and typed in "Rattle Songs", and out popped Ulali with "Rattle Songs", and there it was a swing beat played with rattles. It was an ah hah moment. I'd of course like a second opinion on the authenticity, but I got out my rattles and sure enough it is pretty easy to play: tah tah ta tah on a rattle. The up stroke gives a nice grace note like the modern bounced ride swing. Is it conceivable? That the swing style was a Native American innovation that was later assimilated into main stream culture?

Here is the Ulali "Rattle Songs" recording for reference.


FWIW maybe there is something to that shake rattle and roll.