Hesapa ki Lakota ki Thawa pi (1984/9)

Hesapa ki Lakota ki Thawa pi means "The Black Hills Belong to the Sioux" in Lakota, a language I studied at the Newberry Library in Chicago. Written in 1984, the piece was a protest against continued attempts by the U.S. government to buy uranium-rich land away from the Sioux. The melodic motives come from a Sioux Flag Song recorded by the renowned Ironwood Singers; you can hear the original here. The piece's ever-more-rapidly decreasing rhythmic cycles, and its attendant transformation of calm into anxiety, are intended as a metaphor for the unremitting desecration and destruction of land belonging to Native Americans. The 12/8 meter devolves into a decreasing sequence of changing meters (11/8, 10/8, 9/8, 8/8, 7/8 and so on) through a subtractive process; I later found similar-feeling rhythms in music of the San Juan Indians.

PDF Score

mp3 recording by Essential Music

- Kyle Gann

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