Indigenous Music of Australia

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Indigenous Music of Australia

Australia is a society of many cultures from all over the world. The music of Australia’s indigenous people represents a wide variety of music styles created by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. The music styles range from contemporary to styles that are fused with European sounds. The music of these people has become an important part of the society and culture of the people even though the ceremonies may have changed. “The traditional forms include many aspects of performance and musical instrumentation which are unique to particular regions or Indigenous Australian groups; there are equally elements of musical tradition which are common or widespread through much of the Australian continent, and even beyond.” (“Indigenous Australian Music.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 13 May 2007. 17 May 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_Australian_music)

The Indigenous populations of Australia have learned from other travelers that have visited Australia for trade or other reasons. The colonization of Australia brought many changes to the way Aboriginal society functioned. It changed the land and how the people went about their daily lives. Before 1788 the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders inhabited Australia. In 1788 the Aboriginal people lived on mainland Australia and the Torres Strait Islanders lived on the islands between Australia and Papua New Guinea, in what is now called the Torres Strait (Dreamtime.net.au. Australian Museum. 17 May 2007. http://www.dreamtime.net.au/indigenous/index.cfm). Many of the Europeans that came to Australia misunderstood the Aboriginal culture and created policies that did not benefit the people. They worked against the people by creating policies that benefited the farmers who moved across the continent using up natural resources and exploiting the Aboriginal people for labor. The European colonists did not understand the way the native people used the land for food and spiritual balance, thus causing many problems.

The Indigenous cultures of Australia are one of the oldest in the entire world. “We’ve been here a long, long time” ( Koori Mail. October 1996). Their ability to adapt over time has allowed them to last. The Aborigines talked of “Dreamtime” or “the Dreaming”, which was their version of a creation story. The Rainbow Serpent created the Australian world. As she moved back and forth along the land she created great rivers and from her body the tribes, birds, and animals of Australia emerged. The Aborigines took great pride in the land because they believe that they emerged from it. They believed the Great Ancestral spirits put the plants, animals, and people in their places according to the land forms and spirits surrounding them (FrogandToad’s Indigenous Australia. The Travel Around Company. 19 May 2007 http://indigenousaustralia.frogandtoad.com.au/cultural.html). By the time Europeans arrived to colonize Australia there were more than 700 Aboriginal tribes. Each tribe had their own unique traditions, language, and customs.

Traditional music of Australians indigenous people gives great meaning to their lives. There were three distinct types of Aboriginal music. The first was used for sacred ceremonies. The second type of music is semi-scared and is sung by men, with the women dancing. This music was used for initiation. The third type of music was not sacred and was used for entertainment. This is the only kind of music that can be performed by any person at any time. Music was used throughout the Aboriginals lives to teach what must be known about their culture, about their place in it, and about its place in the world of nature and super nature. Aboriginals encouraged their children at a very young age to dance and sing about everyday tasks. (Telford, Hans W. “Australian Aboriginal Music.” Santa Clara University. 20 May, 2007....
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