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"Music - if so it may be called:" perception and response in the documentation of Aboriginal music in nineteenth century Australia

Saintilan, Nicole, Education, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, UNSW

1993

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  • Title:
    "Music - if so it may be called:" perception and response in the documentation of Aboriginal music in nineteenth century Australia
  • Author/Creator/Curator: Saintilan, Nicole, Education, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, UNSW
  • Subjects: Lesueur; Aboriginal music; Nineteenth century; Field; Lumholtz; Lhotsky; Nathan; Torrence; Baudin; Perception and response in music; Notation
  • Resource type: Thesis
  • Type of thesis: Masters
  • Date: 1993
  • Supervisor: Stubington , Jill, Music & Music Education, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, UNSW
  • Language: English
  • Permissions: This work can be used in accordance with the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.
    Please see additional information at https://library.unsw.edu.au/copyright/for-researchers-and-creators/unsworks

  • Description: In 1901 Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer was amongst the first to make recordings of Aboriginal music with his documentation of central Australian speech and song. Since this time a substantial body of recordings has accrued providing a resource for an understanding of Aboriginal music in the twentieth century. But what is known of Aboriginal music in the time between white settlement and Federation?For years, historians have held up a few nineteenth century notations of Aboriginal music as monuments of historical importance. Names such as Lesueur, Field, Lumholtz, Lhotsky, Nathan, and Torrence, are familiar to anyone who has read accounts of early music making in Australia, but the importance of their work has not yet been clarified. This thesis explores the significance of these early notations and addresses questions of how they could be viewed in light of nineteenth century Aboriginal music and the attitudes of the societies that produced them.‘Perception and responseÂ’ refer to how coupled societies deal with cultural difference. Through notations, we see one societyÂ’s perception of difference and the way they choose to express them. The works when viewed according to aspects such as method of observation and notation, date and reason for notation, and use of the finished product, form groups which highlight major trends in thought and attitude. Although after examination these works may show us very little about Aboriginal music, they are more than just the first notations of music in this country or fairly funny souvenirs of the past; they are significant as, through the changing styles of transcription, we can see the history of attitudes towards indigenous Australians in the nineteenth century.

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