Densmore, Frances

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Densmore, Frances

Densmore, Frances , American ethnomusicologist; b. Red Wing, Minn., May 21, 1867; d. there, June 5, 1957. She studied at the Oberlin (Ohio) Cons. (hon. M.A., 1924), then took courses with Leopold Godowsky (piano) and J. K. Paine (counterpoint). She began the study of Indian music in 1893 at the World’s Fair in Chicago, continuing privately until 1907, when she began systematic research for the Bureau of American Ethnology (Smithsonian Inst), including an exhaustive study of the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Maidu, Santo Domingo Pueblo, and New Mexican Indian tribes. She lectured extensively on Indian music, and publ. a number of books and articles on the subject. A Frances Densmore ethnological library has been established at Macalester Coll. in St. Paul, Minn.


Chippewa Music, a collection of Indian songs in 2 vols. (1910–13); Poems from Sioux and Chippewa Songs (words only; 1917); Tetom Sioux Music (1918); Indian Action Songs (1921); Northern Ute Music (1922); Mandan and Hidatfa Music (1923); The American Indians and Their Music (1926; 2nd ed., 1936); The Music of the Tule Indians of Panama (1926); Some Results of the Study of American Indian Music (reprinted from the Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, XVIII/14; 1928); Pawnee Music (1929); Papago Music (1929); What Intervals Do Indians Sing? (reprinted from the American Anthropologist, April/June, 1929); Yaman and Yaqui Music (U.S. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 110; 1932); Menominee Music (ibid., Bulletin 102; 1932); Cheyenne and Arapaho Music (Southwest Museum, 1936); Alabama Music (Tex. Folk-Lore Soc., 1937); Music of Santo Domingo Pueblo, NewMexico (Southwest Museum, 1938); Nootka and Quileute Music (Washington, D.C., 1939); Music of the Indians of British Columbia (Washington, 1943); Choctaw Music (1943); Seminole Music (1956).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire