The music of Australia’s Aboriginal people is varied and diverse, as befits peoples who inhabit the only continent-sized nation on the planet. Sources such as the Grove Music Online (part of Oxford Music Online, and available through subscribing libraries) identify a range of musical traditions across the varied geographical regions of Australia. This month’s Websites article offers a few sites that provide a introduction to Australian Aboriginal music.
For a basic primer on the role of music in Aboriginal Australia, check out Jo Dyer’s article “Living Songs, Music, Law, and Culture in Aboriginal Australia,” from Resonate Magazine, a publication of the Australian Music Centre (AMC). You can explore how indigenous music has influenced contemporary Australian music on this page by the AMC, which includes several musical samples. The Australian government’s Australian Screen website has links to a number of streaming videos that present a range of indigenous music styles.
The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies dubs itself “the world’s leading research, collecting, and publishing institution in the field of Australian Indigenous studies.” Its website includes a wealth of information on Aboriginal culture and history, including information about scholarly publications, bibliographies, and digital collections, as well as links to other sites across a wide range of related topics.
The Aboriginal Australia Art & Culture Centre (“100% Aboriginal owned & operated”) includes a page dedicated to music, and it’s a treasure trove. It covers a range of traditional music forms and styles, including songs of the Dreamtime, the Songman, dance, and ceremonies, as well as music downloads available for purchase. It also includes a lengthy section on the history of the didgeridoo.
Music from the Arnhem Land in Northern Australia often features the didgeridoo, the instrument most commonly associated with indigenous Australian music. The Manikay.com website is dedicated to the traditional music of Arnhem Land, an includes links to film clips and video clips, as well information about the didjeridoo and traditional music at the “top end” of Australia.
While a number of sites explore traditional indigenous music, Deadly Vibe Magazine explores contemporary indigenous Australian music and culture. It offers a page dedicated to contemporary indigenous music as well as links to the National Indigenous Music Awards.
Finally, there are links to a number of Aboriginal bands and performers’ websites, some traditional, some applying traditional forms to modern music. Check out these bands: Yothu Yindi, the Koomurri Aboriginal Dancers, and Skinnyfish Music, a record label featuring a number of indigenous artists.
– Gene Hyde