song of the Tulowa Indians
performed by Sam Lopez, Loren Bommelyn
from Songs of Love, Luck, Animals & Magic
Indian gambling games span the continent. Although they are not the same from area to area, a common element in many is the hiding of a stick, a bone, or a rock. Often such objects are distictively marked. The Yurok "card" game involves hiding a marked stick in a bundle of plain sticks. The "lucky" gambling songs are designed to give the singer's team a psychological advantage.
The leader begins beating his drum softly and starts to sing. He is joined in unison by his second, who shakes the rattle in time with the drum. Later, the second switches to a bass part to accompany the leader. Toward the end, the second and the leader merge once more into unison and finish together. In the middle is a higher-pitched section akin to the "rise" found in many California Indian songs from other areas.
The bass part uses the vocables "heyowe","hayowe", or "hoyowe" to carry the ostinato figure.
Some songs . . . have the basic "Heyowe" bass, but . . . some of them [are] really complex songs. . . . When a singer climbs up his scale and then drops back down to his bass, then you pick that up and duplicate that exactly. And you cary that same thing all the way through. And then when he goes clear up his scale and changes the levels of his voice, then drops down, you'll match immediately. . . .And that is a good second. (Interview with Loren Bommelyn, April 12, 1976 in Los Angeles.)
Between songs an interlude of drumming usually occurs.
The richness of Sam Lopez's voice is rare in any man, but at eighty-nine it is remarkable indeed.
On the final song of the film, Yurok Frank A. Douglas accompanies himself on a square double-headed frame drum. The range is wide, an eleventh. The melodic contour is terraced descending throughout each of the five strophes. In contrast to the other songs Douglas sings, the vocal tension increases.
Note: The gambling songs were not translated; to do so would put the songs' luck in jeopardy.