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Yuma Lullaby - Sheet Music for Native American Flute

This lullaby comes from the work of Natalie Curtis, a pioneering ethnomusicologist who collected traditional songs from many cultures. She published this Yuma Lullaby in 1921 ([Curtis 1921] American Indian Cradle Songs). Below are narratives of different lengths that are excerpted from the original Curtis publication that describe this song:

Short Narrative

At a Hopi name-giving ceremony, the new-born infant … was reverently carried at dawn to the edge of the cliff to behold its father, the Sun, whose first rays welcomed the child into the elemental world of which the new life was now a part. Solemnly the grandmother and aunts waved ears of corn, symbols of fertility and plenty, reciting a short prayer while pronouncing over the child its names. Slowly the sun rose, shining on the upheld infant … Into such a world was the Indian baby born.

Longer Narrative

So important, so sacred even, is … the sense of fatherhood and motherhood that the Indian expands the obvious human tie into a mystic, cosmic revelation between man and the life-giving forces of Nature. …

The simple philosophy of the natives of our land, whose great teacher is Nature, sees hroughout all creation the birth-giving power of two opposite yet mating forces, the male and female principles …. these primal elements of existence become to the Indian the Earth-Mother, within whose potent heart lie hushed and unborn all the seeds of life, and the Sun-Father, awakener and fructifier. Man is the child of these cosmic parents behind whom lies the great life-principle itself, too vast and unknowable to be defined, a force impersonal and infinite — the “Great Mystery”.

At a Hopi name-giving ceremony which I witnessed, the new-born infant … was reverently carried at dawn to the edge of the cliff to behold its father, the Sun, whose first rays welcomed the child into the elemental world of which the new life was now a part. Solemnly the grandmother and aunts waved ears of corn, symbols of fertility and plenty, reciting a short prayer while pronouncing over the child its names. Slowly the sun rose, shining on the upheld infant … Dawn flooded the desert with swift waves of amethyst and gold. The morning air, pure, unbreathed, untainted, seemed the very breath of a life infinite and sublime … The figures at the edge of the upsweeping crags of rock were as yet the only human forms in a land whose vast horizon tossed against the sky in unbelievable color-splendor. The birth-throes of the coming day throbbed glory and promise and beauty unstained. Into such a world was the Indian baby born.

History

The initial transcription of the Yuma Lullaby was done by Natalie Curtis from wax cylinder recordings she made in Southern Arizona. It was first published by her in “American Indian Cradle Songs,” The Musical Quarterly, Volume 7, 1921, pages 551–552. Her transcription carries the specific titles “Ash’var’ Homar’ Tashmatsk” and the translation “Song for putting Child to sleep”.

The published transcription is now in the public domain in the United States and many other countries, and was digitized by Google on October 18, 2007 from the library of Harvard University. It has been made available as part of the Google Books project (http://books.google.com) and downloaded on April 14, 2010 for this publication:

Natalie Curtis version of Yuma Lullaby

Natalie Curtis's Version of Yuma Lullaby from 1921 Larger image

Transcription and Performance Notes

My arrangement for Native American flute does not show the words that were transcribed by Natalie Curtis, so refer to the original transcription of you would like the words.

The key of the original transcription is one whole step higher than the standard key of Nakai tablature, so if you would like to play it in the original key, play it on a G# or Ab Native American flute.

The arrangement follows the exact notes of the 1921 transcription, but leaves out the grace notes that were scored by Natalie Curtis on the first line. It also expands the repeated bars of the first three lines, for easier readability.

At Citation A there is a change of meter from 4/4 to 6/8 time, but not a change in tempo. One way to handle this is to think of it as going from common 4/4 meter to triplets. You might try counting it as “one two three four”, and change at Citation A to “chi kee dah chi kee dah”.

At Citation A there is a very unusual and interesting note to play in a lullaby! It evokes the jazz style, since it is the “flat five” that is often used in jazz and blues. The fingering for this note is often Finger diagram closed closed closed open closed open on contemporary Native American flutes, but it might sound better using the Finger diagram closed closed closed open closed closed fingering on some flutes. How do you tell which fingering to use? The sound of the flat five note should be half way between Finger diagram closed closed closed closed open open and Finger diagram closed closed closed open open open . So, try the two sequences: Finger diagram closed closed closed closed open open Finger diagram closed closed closed open closed open Finger diagram closed closed closed open open open and Finger diagram closed closed closed closed open open Finger diagram closed closed closed open closed closedFinger diagram closed closed closed open open open and use the fingering that gives the better sound for the middle note.

Sheet Music - Six-hole Pentatonic Minor Tuned Flutes

Yuma Lullaby - Version 1 - six-hole Pentatonic Minor

Yuma Lullaby - Version 1 - Six-Hole Flutes - Pentatonic Minor Tuning - page 1 of 2 Larger image

 

Yuma Lullaby - Version 1 - six-hole Pentatonic Minor

Yuma Lullaby - Version 1 - Six-Hole Flutes - Pentatonic Minor Tuning - page 2 of 2 Larger image

Sheet Music - Five-hole Pentatonic Minor Tuned Flutes

Yuma Lullaby - Version 1 - five-hole Pentatonic Minor

Yuma Lullaby - Version 1 - Five-Hole Flutes - Pentatonic Minor Tuning - page 1 of 2 Larger image

 

Yuma Lullaby - Version 1 - five-hole Pentatonic Minor

Yuma Lullaby - Version 1 - Five-Hole Flutes - Pentatonic Minor Tuning - page 2 of 2 Larger image

 
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To cite this page on Wikipedia: <ref name="Goss_2017_song_YumaLullaby"> {{cite web |last=Goss |first=Clint |title=Yuma Lullaby - Sheet Music for Native American Flute |url=http://www.Flutopedia.com/song_YumaLullaby.htm |date=15 April 2017 |website=Flutopedia |access-date=<YOUR RETRIEVAL DATE> }}</ref>