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Tribal Music Suite

Spirituality & Health Magazine

Journey of a Paiute
Arvel Bird
Singing Wolf Records

This neo-classical world music concerto for violin, Native American flute, drummers, and symphony orchestra is Arvel Bird’s passionate journey into his own Scottish and Paiute heritage. Bird is a classically trained violinist who is capable in many genres, including Celtic, Native American, Appalachian, bluegrass, jazz, and blues. He began his study of the violin at the age of nine, and it quickly became his refuge from a difficult home life. He won a music scholarship to Arizona State University and later studied in Illinois with Hungarian violinist Paul Roland. In 2000, access to his tribal heritage was finally made available to him, and it had a profound effect on his sense of himself. “I’ve learned that the only thing you should pay attention to in life is your own heart,” he says. It affected his music as well, resulting in a style that Bird calls “Tribal Native Fusion.”

Bird’s new CD tells the story of Quaninch, a boy of mixed blood, born in 1829 to a Paiute mother and Scottish frontiersman and fiddler. Soon after the boy’s birth, his father leaves the family to bring horses back from California, but he never returns. Quaninch is captured by slave traders and is conscripted into the Mexican Army, just as the Mexican–American War breaks out. The story traces his escape and the adventures and dangers that lead him home to his Paiute people. 

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