Arapaho songs were and are passed on in a variety of ways: some are traditional and are passed on orally, some are learned from other tribes, and some are created by tribe members. Songs of the Sun Dance, Vision Quest, and of war are the oldest documented, although it is very likely there are many older songs. Many songs in Arapaho have meaningless syllables, but it is very important to realize that these are structured and standardized. In other words, they are not random syllables chosen on a whim by the singer(s).
Not only is Arapaho music complex, it is extremely important to the people. The music is not just used for entertainment as those in mainstream United States culture generally presume. All aspects of the music are significant and full of power, and cannot be divorced from the religion, culture, and history of the Arapaho.