Orchestrating solo

Whether it's a brand or a tune: Native people are contemporary.On the show today is Brent Michael Davids he's been composing music for 45 years. Muscogee Nation is declaring its own identity, ICT reporter Kolby KickingWoman explains more.
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Pandemic restrictions and the social justice movement are colliding on stage in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The result is, small scale compositions that are premiering this month all composed by people of color. These solo pieces are made for wind instruments and the concerts are being streamed online by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Brent Michael Davids is one of the composers and he joins us today.  

Up until recently, the Muscogee Nation, in Oklahoma had the word “Creek” in its name. Reporter Kolby KickingWoman joins us on the show today to discuss what the name change means and doesn’t mean. 

A slice of our Indigenous world 

  • The U.S. Treasury Department will use self-reported tribal enrollment data to divide up $20 billion for tribes.
  • The Klamath Tribes' effort to save an endangered Oregon species has failed in court.
  • Seattle’s Deputy mayor wants to move into the big seat. 
  • More and more tribes are rolling the dice to get in on Las Vegas.
  • Another disagreement over allowing Native students to wear eagle feathers and regalia during high school graduation has come up.
  • Along two rivers in British Columbia there’s some art so big it can only be seen from the sky.  

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Some quotes from today's show 

Brent Michaels Davids

"In some ways it is when you're writing for a full orchestra, chorus or something with a lot of more instruments there's more diverse sounds. You can get really big sounds like one of the benefits of writing for orchestra is we can write sounds that are huge you know, really dynamic. It can go from small sounds too huge, massive sounds. And with a solo, a piece of any time, you can't really do that. There's only a minimum level of volume and you can get out of a solo instrument. So you rely on a lot of other techniques and rhythms and melodies to get the point across. The orchestration is not really not that big into it. It is a different type of thing, writing for solo or chamber works is different than writing for bigger ensembles."

"For me personally, it isn't that much of a difference because I do most of my work in my own studio anyway, I'm in my studio right now. And I'm used to working a lot alone and I'm producing sheet music a lot of times for live players. So in that sense I'm still doing the same work that I would normally do. Anyway. I spend a lot of time on my own, but it affects the performers a lot more than it affects me. The performers can't get together if we have a recording we need to do in the studio like some scoring stage studio with full instruments and a lot of musicians, it's hard to get those people together because of the pandemics, a lot of stuff has been put on hold. Some of the projects that I've been scheduled to work on, I've put on hold. So I get to do my work steadily, but at the same time, you know, I feel I have more sympathy, I guess, for the performers that have had to wait and the courses that can't sing together through the pandemic than I do for me."

Kolby KickingWoman 

"Yeah, the Muscogee Nation formerly and in their constitution, they are still living in Muskogee Creek nation. When it comes to proclamations and legislation, that will still be there, but the tribe thought it created some confusion. The Creek was a misnomer that was given to them by the British. Jason Salsman and Brian OnTheHill who created the new logo for the tribe said it was given to them, cause they lived along the waterways. They are the Muscogee people in Muskogee nation and they felt that cleared up some."

(READ MORE: Muscogee declaring its ‘own identity’)

"The decision was made on an executive branch level and it has been discussed since last December or last September a little bit after the decision came down and they felt it was an opportunity for them to reaffirm who they are as a nation. Not everybody was on board. It wasn't something that was put to a vote, but Jason Salzman wanted to make it very clear, I said earlier, you know, Creek isn't going anywhere. They encourage there citizens that they want to be known as Creek citizens to do that.They're happy for people for everyone that they want to be called and Skokie nation, so they can do that as well."

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix. 

Kolby KickingWoman, Blackfeet/A'aniih is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today. He is from the great state of Montana and currently reports for the Washington Bureau. For hot sports takes and too many Lakers tweets, follow him on Twitter - @KDKW_406. Email - kkickingwoman@indiancountrytoday.com

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