The Densmore Project: Music of the Native Peoples of North America


The goal of the Densmore Project is to encourage awareness and understanding of traditional Native American music by providing documentary materials and research tools via the world-wide web.

The musical materials included here are based primarily on songs collected by Frances Densmore for the Bureau of American Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution. When completed, the musical materials will include the complete corpus of rougly 2,500 transcriptions of Native American songs collected from some 30 First Nations groups across North America. Currently, about 30 percent of Densmore's materials are encoded. In addition, the project will make available as much contextual and background information as may be assembled and made available in the public domain. This will include photographs, historical recordings, field notes, ethnomusicological annotations, and linguistic data.

When completed, the materials will be accessible by cultural region by tribal region or by tribe name. In addition, individual songs will be accessible using the Native American Themefinder. The themefinder will allow searching by musical contour, pitch, rhythm, tribe, title, genre, function, topic, lyrics, and keyword.

In the future, it will be possible for visitors to download the entire database of song-transcriptions from this web site. As the project developes, research tools will be added to this web site to allow visitors to carry out their own investigations and comparisons of the music. Technical information concerning transcriptions and processing methods is available.

The Densmore Project is an ongoing project based at the Cognitive and Systematic Musicology Laboratory at the Ohio State University. Please contact us if you are interested in participating or contributing to this project.
Densmore Project
Frances Densmore
Native Music Themefinder
Scholarly Notes
Analysis Tools
Coming Soon

Users of this web site should be aware that special ethical considerations are pertinent when working with traditional Native American songs.