Skip to content

Book Your Visit Today

Please select from one of the below options to be redirected to the booking pages for our schools


Discovering the Music and Melodies of the Inuit

Uncover the captivating melodies and rich cultural heritage of Inuit traditional folk music. Dive into the unique sounds and storytelling of the Inuit people, and explore the significance of this musical tradition in their lives across the Arctic. Wikipedia is a great resource to provide teachers and parents with an overview of the history and origins of the musical style, including descriptions of instruments such as the tautirut and qilaut, and to explain Kattajjaq as a singing style

The Origins of Inuit Traditional Folk Music

Inuit traditional folk music has its roots in the ancient traditions of the Inuit people, who have inhabited the Arctic regions for thousands of years. It is a musical form that has been passed down through generations, serving as a means of cultural expression and identity.

The music reflects the deep connection the Inuit people have with the natural world around them, with many songs inspired by the landscapes, wildlife, and daily life in the Arctic. It is believed that the origins of Inuit traditional folk music can be traced back to shamanic rituals and ceremonies, where music was used to communicate with the spiritual realm.

The traditional songs were traditionally sung without any accompanying musical instruments, relying solely on the power of the human voice. However, over time, musical instruments such as drums, flutes, and jaw harps were introduced and incorporated into the music, adding depth and variety to the melodies.

Musical Instruments Used in Inuit Traditional Folk Music

Inuit traditional folk music showcases a variety of unique musical instruments that are integral to its distinct sound. One of the most iconic instruments is the Inuit drum, also known as the qilaut. Made from a wooden frame covered with animal skin, the drum produces deep, resonant tones that are used to accompany the singing.

Another commonly used instrument is the Inuit flute, which is typically made from bone or wood. The flute produces haunting and melodic sounds that evoke the natural beauty of the Arctic landscape. Additionally, the jaw harp, made from a metal or bamboo frame with a vibrating tongue, adds a rhythmic element to the music.

These instruments, along with the human voice, come together to create a mesmerizing and immersive musical experience that transports listeners to the heart of Inuit culture. The below Spotify playlist has some amazing examples of traditional Inuit music.


Characteristics of Inuit Traditional Folk Music

Inuit traditional folk music is characterized by its distinct vocal style and rhythmic patterns. The vocal style often features throat singing, a technique where two or more singers create intricate harmonies and melodies by manipulating their vocal cords.

The rhythms in Inuit traditional folk music are often repetitive and hypnotic, reflecting the cyclical nature of life in the Arctic. The songs are known for their storytelling aspect, with lyrics that tell tales of hunting, nature, and ancestral traditions.

The melodies of Inuit traditional folk music are haunting and evocative, capturing the beauty and harshness of the Arctic environment. They often feature long, sustained notes that mimic the sounds of the wind, ice, and wildlife. The music is deeply emotional and can convey a wide range of feelings, from joy and celebration to sorrow and longing. Here's an example of Kattajjaq (throat singing) live on TV...


The Role of Inuit Traditional Folk Music in Cultural Preservation

Inuit traditional folk music plays a vital role in preserving and celebrating the cultural heritage of the Inuit people. It serves as a powerful tool for passing down knowledge, stories, and traditions from one generation to the next.

Through the songs, the Inuit people express their deep connection to the land, animals, and their ancestors. The music serves as a way to honor and remember their history, ensuring that their traditions and values are kept alive.

Inuit traditional folk music also fosters a sense of community and belonging, bringing people together to celebrate and share their cultural identity. It is a source of pride and a way to assert their unique place in the world.

Furthermore, the music serves as a bridge between the past and the present, allowing the Inuit people to maintain a strong connection to their roots while embracing the modern world.

Inuit Traditional Folk Music in Modern Times

Inuit traditional folk music continues to thrive in modern times, with musicians and artists carrying on the tradition and exploring new possibilities. While the music has evolved and adapted to contemporary influences, it remains deeply rooted in Inuit culture and traditions.

Today, Inuit musicians use a combination of traditional instruments and modern technology to create innovative and captivating compositions. They blend traditional melodies with contemporary sounds, creating a unique fusion that speaks to both the past and the present.

Inuit traditional folk music has also gained recognition on the global stage, with artists performing at festivals and events around the world. This exposure has helped raise awareness about Inuit culture and traditions, fostering a greater appreciation and understanding of this rich musical heritage.

As the Inuit people navigate the challenges of the modern world, their traditional folk music serves as a source of strength, resilience, and cultural pride. It is a reminder of their roots and a celebration of their unique identity.