Music in Dalton and beyond.

After the war, music survived in many different areas, in various forms. Instrumental music became a popular way to entertain self and family after the loss of all electric power. Musical instruments are valued family possessions, often passed down to children who inherited musical talent.

In Dalton, music is eclectic and varied. It has been influenced by the Oglala community of Pine Ridge, the spoken word tradition that has become popular with the rebel groups as a form of protest and of voicing their issues, and the folk music of the rail riders.

One of the forms of music that continued basically unchanged after the war is the Pine Ridge Sioux’s native dance, ritual and meditative music. The Oglala community continued their musical tradition of vocal dance and ritual songs with drum accompaniment, and this music style was brought with them into Dalton when they assisted the town in rebuilding. The Kiwasicu Sioux who continued to live in the city often carried on the tradition, and many Sioux melodies have become common lullabies for children.

Spoken Word style music is the language of the protestors. They adopted the style because it lent itself well to open-air gatherings and to bringing a stronger force to their arguments. The genre had been a form of speaking out against social injustices and wrongs before the war, and the Mixeds have drawn on that tradition.

The music of the rail riders is an eclectic variety of folk music that makes use of whatever instruments are portable enough to be traveled with, and the same songs can be played on a variety of instruments. Traveling groups often compose their own songs about their lives and about members of their group, and these songs are generally specific only to one group of riders, although they are sometimes shared between two friendly groups. Those who travel in larger bands, like the migrant workers, have a more standardized repertoire of music. A few songs are common knowledge to almost everyone who rides the rails, including some surviving tunes like “I’ve Been Working On the Railroad” modified to suit the rider lifestyle, and also songs that were written by one group but were shared and became popular, such as “Ruben and the One-eyed Bear”, a ballad about a well-known rider and his team’s misadventures.

Other varieties of music continue to survive, such as ethnic folk music of the Hispanic population and of people like Grandpa Callaghan, whose Irish fiddle music was a large part of Tess’s childhood.

 

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