Native American, Central American, Chinese, Andes. I have CDs with music from all of these places. I listen to it as I write first drafts of books.
Why you might ask? I've had books with either characters of these nationalities or set in the areas. By listening, I feel the rhythm of the culture and the nuances. Does that make me strange? Probably, but I believe it helps me gain a better understanding of the people and place where the music originated.
My latest Shandra Higheagle mystery which is in pre-order and releases this month is once again set on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington state. In the book, Shandra is discovering even more about her Nez Perce roots. I have her dancing and watching traditional dance. As you might expect given what I said earlier, I listened to drumming and dance music by Blackstone a Native American drum group. They aren't Nez Perce, but I've discovered listening to various artists that while some may be heavier on flute and another on drum, they all have the same basic pulse and fluidity to them.
The art of drumming and dance isn't lost to the Native American culture. They have regional and national Powwows where they show off their drum and dancing skills. Even their regalia-traditional style clothing they wear for the dances.
While researching the Seven Drums Religion, Dreamer Faith, or walahsat- the religion I have Shandra's deceased grandmother having been a follower- I discovered there is little to be found about the religion. It was one of the first things the Nez Perce were forced to give up to believe in a Christian religion and not be considered a heathen when the religious sects came to the west to "civilize". It is also one more thing that divides the Lapwai treaty Nez Perce in Idaho and the Nespelem non-treaty Nez Perce in Washington.
What I did discover about this lost religion is:
- They always sing a song for each day of the week.
- They move counter-clockwise with the earth
- They jump and dance.
- They believe the animals all have spirits.
- That every thing is a gift-food, sight, hearing, children, everything.
- All gifts come from the Creator.
- They believe in vision quests.
While this religion is slowly coming back to the Nez Perce, I consider it a lost art.
I share a small bit of it in my latest Shandra Higheagle release, Dangerous Dance.
Book eleven in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series
Jealousy… Drugs… Murder…
At the reservation to make final arrangements for her upcoming wedding, potter Shandra Higheagle gets caught up in the murder of a young woman about to turn her life around.
Having no jurisdiction on the reservation, Detective Ryan Greer pulls in favors from friends in the FBI to make sure there is no delay in their wedding.
However, the death occurs in a sacred place and could place the nuptials on hold. Following the clues may not only stop the wedding... but separate Shandra and Ryan for life.