Black Bear Singers the singing of Native American


Black Bear Singers the singing of Native American

The Black Bear Singers are a mixed choral group born in 2000 with the aim of keeping alive the singing tradition of the Manawan (Quebec) community.


Their performances are organized as follows:

there are two structures, a circle, the male one, with a drum in the center and a female semicircle.


       The technique of the Black bear singers


The two circles alternate in a call and response, made up of repeated litanies with a dynamically strong singing managed throughout the performance with a falsetto typical of American Indian songs. Technically, men are urged to make a considerable effort, not because they have to reach the extreme of the note as tonal pitch, but because of the dynamic power.


A detail that comes to light by watching and listening to the Black Bear Singers video is the use of the upper limbs to tighten and move the larynx, in order to obtain a “broken” and “pungent” sound in certain points of the responses to the main melody.

In this song the facilitator is not really a person but the drum, who marks the time and the various changes of the structure.



The structure of the Black Bear Singers executions


The structure of their performances (refrain – verse) is characterized by a continuous passing of the baton between the “guide” (the singer who first evokes the beginning of the song) and the remaining group. In each passage there are modulations and/or variations performed by the solo singer, the connection between verse and refrain and the passing of the baton is marked by a very precise signal on the drum made by a succession of strong slow blows that break the rhythmic structure.

The ending of the piece takes place with a succession of 6 strokes, another important thing is the rite of the deposition of the woooza malletti (clapper) on the drum as if to thank him.

The places where this ritual is practiced are the gatherings of natives called powwow, a sort of structured ceremonial, organized more often with the aim of celebrating a special occasion.


So I leave you with this fantastic video where you can savor the sounds of the Black Bear Singers.


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