Traditional Iroquois Music
compared to:
Antonin Leopold Dvorak
By: Patricia Bradley
The Iroquois Tribe
• Also known as: The Iroquois Confederacy,
Haudenosaunee, and “People of the Long
• Territory spans Northeastern Woodlands of
America and Canada
• Consists of 6 Native American nations
• Today about 45,000 Iroquois members live
in Canada and about 80,822 in America
Iroquois Socials
The Iroquois frequently held social gatherings
within their communities
These socials provided a time and place for the
community to come together for music and
 Always lead by an individual with specific duties
called the “house-keeper” or “pusher”
Traditional Iroquois Music
• Played for religious and entertainment purposes
• Music always danced to counter clock-wise
• 3 main types of dances/songs
Stomp, fish, and side-step shuffle
• Instruments used:
– Flutes, rattles, drums, and other various
percussion instruments
• Music sung in antiphony
• Characteristics of Iroquois music:
– Rhythmic complexity, shifts in meter, call and
response, short phrases, shouting, and tones
based on the pentatonic scale
Iroquois Music and Dancing
Antonin Leopold Dvorak
• Composer of the Romantic Period
• Born on September 8, 1841 in Nelahozeves, Prague,
Czech Republic
• Began music education at age 6
• Played viola in Bohemian Provisional Theater Orchestra
from 1860-1871
• Left orchestra to compose in 1871
• Married Anna Cermakova in 1873 and had 9 children
• Became the organist for St. Aldabert’s Church in the
Dvorak continued
• Befriended Johann Brahms in 1877 who helped him
publish his works
• Received honorary degree from Cambridge University in
• Director of the National Conservatory of Music in New
York from 1892-1895
• Returned to Bohemia in 1895
• 1901-1904 succeeded Antonin Bennewitz as Director of
the Conservatory in Prague
• Died in 1904 due to heart failure
• Buried in Vysehrad Cemetery in Prague
Symphony No. 9 in E Minor
“From the New World”
Also known as “The New World Symphony”
Composed in 1893
Original numbered as his 5th symphony but renumbered
Inspired by his travels in America and the native music
he heard there (northeastern tribes such as the Iroquois)
• Consists of 4 movements:
– Adagio-Allegro Molto
– Largo
Scherzo-Molt Vivace-Poco Sostenuto
Allegro Con Fuoco
"I have not actually used any of the [Native American]
melodies. I have simply written original themes embodying
the peculiarities of the Indian music, and, using these themes
as subjects, have developed them with all the resources of
modern rhythms, counterpoint, and orchestral color."
• Both the Iroquois music and the New
World Symphony use fairly short musical
• Both use a call and response style
between voices
• Both use drums (or bass voices) to keep a
steady beat
Music Samples
Iroquois Music: Our Mother's Song
New World Symphony: Movement 2: Largo
New World Symphony: Movement 3: Molto vivace
Works Cited

Patricia Bradley - The Spirit of Great Oak