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The Rhythm of the Moon

Terrain.org staff reviews Under the Green Corn Moon: Native American Lullabies

Under the Green Corn Moon:  Native American  Lullabies"In every corner of our globe the lullaby has echoed that most tender of relationships, between parent and child," writes Tom Wasinger, producer and recording artist of Under the Green Corn Moon, a collection of 16 American Indian lullabies.  "The lullabies of the Native American people," he concludes, "are no exception."  Indeed, this fine collection of both traditional and contemporary lullabies is his—and the Indian artists'—proof.

The collection begins with Lorain Fox's "Tu Tu Teshcote," an Aztec lullaby that is deeply calming thanks to Ms. Fox's voice and the low, distant beating of drums and strumming of wall harp, bridged by elegant flute.  With other instruments such as mouth bow, pianolin, autoharp, tremoloa, cittern, resonating stones, drums, ocarina, and spike fiddle, the lullabies are as varied as these instruments and the tribal voices from which they flow.  Some are humurous, such as Dorothy White Horse's traditional Kiowa lullaby that addresses the baby as prairie dog, "Go ahead and dance little puppy, your tail's just-a-waggin' and this is as far as you're gonna jump!"  (And don't miss Ms. White Horse's brief explanation following the last track of the album.)

Others are serene, mystical.  Joanne Shenandoah's contemporary Oneida Iroquois lullaby, "Kunolounkwa," with her solo, slightly echoing voice backed by a lightly tapping drum and percussion, is as beautiful as any song from true life or mythology.  It is, in this reviewer's opinion, the high point of what is already an ethereal collection. 

Still others are more what I, in my admitted ignorance of American Indian lullaby and hymn, expected to hear:  solo chants from mother or father to child, such as Dorothy Hunting Horse Gray's traditional Kiowa song; Ann Shadlow's traditional Cheyenne lullaby (backed by spike fiddle and other instruments), "Moc-Sossii;" Robert Mirabal's Taos Pueblo family lullaby, "Bpa-the'Bhup-oo;" and Alph Secakuku's traditional Hopi song of rabbit to child, "Kuy Va Wi Sa'a."  Father to child, rather than just mother to child?  Yes, in indigenous American cultures—as well as cultures from around the world, of course—fathers and mothers both play the role of nurturer, helping to lull the child to peaceful sleep.

And that is one of the benefits of this album:  it entices both parents—indeed all family members and friends who are fortunate enough to be with a small child when the music is playing—to relax with and ultimately participate in the lullabies.  They soothe both parent and child.

We can even forgive Tom Wasinger for sneaking in a Pawnee instrumental arrangement.  After all, a lullaby doesn't have to be sung.  Often lullabies are hummed, and instrumentals—especially this soothing piece—can help a child find restful sleep, as well.

There is a resonant, almost haunting quality about most of these lullabies, and that makes them all the more entrancing.  But the final test is, appropriately, how they affect the little one.  Shhhh... don't wake our two-year-old daughter, she's just fallen asleep with the album playing softly in the background....


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Under the Green Corn Moon: Native American Lullabies

Silver Wave Records
16 Tracks



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