Musical instruments main content.

Musical instruments

Part of Northwest Coast Hall.


Songs were an intrinsic part of all ceremonies. The Tsimshianic honored the talented composer. A host who planned a ceremony engaged a composer to devise new songs, some to praise the host, and others to comments cleverly and subtly on the weaknesses of various guests. An oblique and subtle song that heaped scorn upon a rival evoked considerable admiration form the audience. Many songs were sacred. These were treasured gifts from supernatural beings and were inherited, as were crests and ceremonial prerogatives. 

Despite the importance of songs, the Tsimshianic had few musical instruments. The principle ones were drums and rattles. Whistles were not used as an accompaniment to songs but rather to imitate the voices and calls of supernatural beings.