So now we’ve arrived at “the day”, the 26th of January. Australia Day .
For many Australians, it is a day to celebrate the country we were and are, for others it’s just a day off work, and for others still it is a sombre reminder of the irrevocable effects British settlement had on the people and culture of Indigenous Australia¹.
Once again, for the most part I’ll refrain from including personal opinion here, except to say that today, I choose to acknowledge and honour that this country I call home, was a country long before those ships found its shores, with a rich, diverse, established culture – and music is a significant part of that culture.
While I think it’s essential to include in a series concerning the music of Australia, I regret to say that I don’t feel I know enough about it to attempt to inform as well as Aboriginal Art Online have with this fantastic page highlighting some of the most important and fascinating aspects of traditional Aboriginal music, which speaks of the use and inheritence of music as a living, evolving part of life. (What a wonderful gift that must be).
I highly recommend taking a few moments to read the above page and learning a little more about how music is utilised as a part of every day life, as a tool for communication, and even as a measure of a man’s maturity.
The following track, composed and performed by Richard Walley, uses the didgeridoo as the sole instrument. The different sounds are achieved by various vocal techniques such as clicking and speaking, or simply a change in the position of the mouth and tongue to alter the pitch or tone, while keeping the drone sound constant (most effective when utilising circular breathing). Which makes the didgeridoo fairly unique in that it can be a wind and rhythm instrument simultaneously.
I’ll now be taking a few days break before resuming regular posting activity. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from anyone with examples of artists or songs they feel represent their country in some way – any way.
1. Australia Day is commonly referred to by Indigenous Australians as Invasion Day.
2. Yothu Yindi is Yolngu for child and mother.