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Issue Details: First known date: 2014... 2014 Circulating Cultures : Exchanges of Australian Indigenous Music, Dance and Media
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Circulating Cultures is an edited book about the transformation of cultural materials through the Australian landscape. The book explores cultural circulation, exchange and transit, through events such as the geographical movement of song series across the Kimberley and Arnhem Land; the transformation of Australian Aboriginal dance in the hands of an American choreographer; and the indigenisation of symbolic meanings in heavy metal music. Circulating Cultures crosses disciplinary boundaries, with contributions from historians, musicologists, linguists and dance historians, to depict shifts of cultural materials through time, place and interventions from people. It looks at the way Indigenous and non-Indigenous performing arts have changed through intercultural influence and collaboration.'(Publication summary)

Notes

  • This work is in three parts:

    Part 1: C.P. Mountford and the Circulation of Music, Dance and Film

    Part 2: Transformation and Repatriation

    Part 3: Cultural Journeys in the Top End

Contents

* Contents derived from the Canberra, Australian Capital Territory,:Australian National University , 2014 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Archival Objects and the Circulation of Culture, Amanda Harris , single work criticism

'Exchanges of cultural capital facilitated cross-cultural communication in a variety of Australian contexts, both before and after the arrival of Europeans in Australia at the end of the eighteenth century. In the absence of common languages on the colonial frontier, exchanges of music, dance, and painting can become tangible means of communication between people seeking to understand the culture of others. This book explores the circulation of ephemeral, physical and spiritual media across the lines that separate cultures from one another. Objects of cultural capital are transformed across landscapes and media through technology, people and their relationships with each other and with the otherworldly space beyond.' (Introduction)

(p. 1-16)
Beth Dean and the Transnational Circulation of Aboriginal Dance Culture : Gender, Authority and C.P. Mountford, Victoria Haskins , single work criticism

'One of the highlights of the young Queen Elizabeth II’s royal tour to Australia in 1954 was the command performance of an excerpt from the ballet Corroboree. Based on Aboriginal dance steps and performed to Australian composer John Antill’s 1946 symphonic ballet of the same name, also inspired by Indigenous traditions, the ballet told the story of a young boy’s initiation into manhood. The lead role of the boy initiate was played by the choreographer, a dynamic American dancer, Beth Dean, performing in a nylon brown bodystocking and make-up mimicking ochre bodypainting, her hair pulled back in a chignon that suggested the hairstyles of the central desert. A curious spectacle, indeed, as one young English woman watched another young, American woman, play out the initiation to manhood of an Aboriginal youth, as a symbol of Australia’s distinctive cultural identity.' (Introduction)

(p. 17-44)
The Circle of Songs : Traditional Song and the Musical Score to C.P. Mountford's Documentary Films, Anthony Linden Jones , single work criticism

'This chapter interrogates the process of incorporation of traditional Aboriginal song into the context of musical underscore for two documentary films using Western orchestral instrumentation. I contextualise these practices in the history of ethnographic film-making in Australia and contemporary film scoring practices up to the time of these films and examine the impact of the limitations of recording technology on film composers’ interpretation of the songs. By placing the scores in their historical and cultural context and employing a range of analytic tools, I aim to consider how these acts of appropriation of culturally significant artefacts might be understood today.' (Introduction)

(p. 45-72)
Hearing Aboriginal Music Making in Non-Indigenous Accounts of the Bush from the Mid-Twentieth Century, Amanda Harris , single work criticism

Mid-century non-Indigenous travellers in the Australian bush found themselves confronted with a new auditory world, one in which the sounds of the city were absent, and the sounds of the bush unfamiliar. The reckonings of these travellers with aural encounters of people, place and animals often came to stand for a complex set of reactions to being in the bush. The way they listened to Aboriginal music being sung and played around them crystallised perceptions held about Aboriginal people and how they might be located in the Australian landscape. How non-Indigenous authors heard and performed culturally familiar music also reflected ways that they viewed themselves and was a means of bringing the familiar to alien surroundings. In this chapter, I combine accounts from diaries of the 1948 American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land with depictions from novels written within two decades of the expedition to give examples of the way Aboriginal music was heard by non-Indigenous travellers. In the process I tease out some of the perceptions of a range of commentators on Aboriginal culture that are revealed in these musical encounters. I also consider how this sound world was brought to bear on a musical composition by Peter Sculthorpe from a slightly later period and reflect on how the musical setting of Aboriginal song themes reveals similar preoccupations to these literary descriptions.'  (Introduction)

(p. 73-97)
Song as Artefact : the Reclaiming of Song Recordings Empowering Indigenous Stakeholders - and the Recordings Themselves, Genevieve Campbell , single work criticism
'The culture of the Tiwi Islands, northern Australia, has been the subject of much anthropological literature but none focuses on music. Since 2007 I have been working with senior Tiwi song-men and -women and studying contemporary Tiwi song culture in the context of the maintenance of traditions in the development of new music forms. In 2009 I was closely involved in the return to the Tiwi community of a large amount of ethnographic song material housed at the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) in Canberra. In this chapter I give an account of the process undertaken by a group of Tiwi people to reclaim that song material, including the emotional, socio-political, legal and ethical issues that my Tiwi colleagues and I encountered, as well as the effect that the material is now having on Tiwi song tradition itself. Documenting the experience of the group of Indigenous owners of the material is essential to an understanding of how their journey to Canberra has informed the reception of the recordings in the context of the four areas listed above. Importantly, the pro-active nature of the Tiwi group’s involvement with the repatriation has added an extra level to their understanding of the procedure and therefore resulted in a personal investment and heightened sense of ownership of the recordings.' (Introduction)
(p. 101-127)
Turning Subjects into Objects and Objects into Subjects : Collecting Human Remains on the 1948 Arnhem Land Expedition, Martin Thomas , single work criticism

'He's taking the bones now, taking the bones. He reaches into the hollow of a crevice; the rear of his trousers, protruding towards the camera, is stained with channels of sweat. Turning to face us, he unwraps a mandible from a blackened shred of rag. Bespectacled, and with lips pursed beneath a trim moustache, his officer's deportment is upset by a slash of blue headband that gives him a piratical craziness. He adds the jaw to a wooden crate already full of arm and leg bones, butted up against a skull. The guts of this narrative—if 'guts' is quite the word when we are dealing with bodies so fleshless—hinge on this and other kindred events.'  (Introduction)

 

(p. 129-166)
The Role of Songs in Connecting the Living and the Dead : A Funeral Ceremony for Nakodjok in Western Arnhem Land, Reuben Brown , single work criticism

'The family had waited a long time for this. Their father had passed away some six months earlier, in the middle of the wet season in the Top End of the Northern Territory, and his body had been held in a morgue in Katherine all this time. Now that the dry season had begun and the water levels along the rivers and flood plains had receded, some of the remote dirt roads through Arnhem Land were once again open. The family’s outstation on their ancestral Country at Mikkinj Valley was now accessible via a road that ran east from the Aboriginal community of Gunbalanya (also known as Oenpelli), and then west around the other side of the Arnhem Land escarpment, and preparations to bury their father on his Country could begin in earnest. The burial had been planned for August, but with more deaths in the community of Gunbalanya creating a backlog of funerals and limiting space in the local morgue, the date was brought forward. In late June, the body of Nakodjok Nayinggul (or Nakodjok Namanilakarr, as he was referred to post-mortem) was finally returned to the family in a charter plane from Katherine to Gunbalanya.'  (Introduction)

(p. 169-201)
Cross and Square : Variegation in the Transmission of Songs and Musical Styles between the Kimberley and Daly Regions of Northern Australia, Sally Treloyn , single work criticism

'Early in 2010 I heard for the first time a recording of a performance of balga songs made in 1974 in Port Keats (Wadeye). Intrigued to hear this performance of balga—a dance-song genre championed by language groups of the Kimberley region, but here being sung by people some hundreds of kilometres away in the Daly region—I was immediately struck by two songs that were very similar to two songs in the balga repertory of the Ngarinyin/Wunambal composer Scotty Martin. Some months later I had the opportunity to listen to the recording in the company of Martin and other elder performers of Kimberley balga and junba. Martin immediately recognised the two songs as very much like his own. How the songs came to be performed in Port Keats in 1974, less than five years after Martin composed them, however, was a mystery, and there was much discussion about who the singers, particularly the lead singer, could possibly be. Martin, himself an expert composer and singer of song styles of the Kimberley (including all types of balga/junba and wolungarri) and the didjeridu-accompanied genres of the Daly (wangga and lirrga) provided an authoritative analysis of the songs: while the songs were indeed his and the entire repertory sounded Ngarinyin/Wunambal, they were ‘cross and square’ and ‘mixed up at the beginning’'.  (Introduction)

(p. 203-238)
Listening to Heavy Metal in Wadeye, John Mansfield , single work criticism

'Most of the chapters in this volume examine how Aboriginal cultural artefacts have travelled outwards from their places of origin, being distributed, deployed or displaced in distant social contexts. This chapter treats the inverse situation: how a cultural product that has its origins in Europe and North America has been received and re-used in an Aboriginal town of tropical northern Australia. The cultural product in question is heavy metal—primarily a musical genre, which first emerged in Britain and the US in the 1980s, but also an associated array of images, texts and fashion statements. The site of reception is Wadeye, Australia’s largest remote Aboriginal town, with a population of some 2,500 people, whose antecedents moved in to settle the Port Keats Mission in the mid-twentieth century. In 1975 the Mission was dissolved, and the newly secular town renamed as Wadeye. Since the late-1980s the youth have become avid fans of heavy metal, though the extensive equipment required for producing heavy metal music has prevented any metal bands from forming in Wadeye. The music has come to be associated with public disorder and what the media describe as ‘heavy metal gangs’. The popularity of metal in Wadeye tends to arouse great curiosity among visitors, presumably because metal is reflexively associated with urban or suburban settings, while Wadeye is an isolated town some 400 kilometres from the larger urban centres of Darwin and Katherine.'  (Introduction)

(p. 239-262)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Other Formats

  • Also e-book. Online resource available on Australian National University Press website.

Works about this Work

[Review Essay] Circulating Cultures : Exchanges of Australian Indigenous Music, Dance and Media Richard M. Moyle , 2015 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Aboriginal Studies , December no. 2 2015; (p. 76-78)

— Review of Circulating Cultures : Exchanges of Australian Indigenous Music, Dance and Media 2014 selected work criticism

'This book arises broadly from the research project ‘Exploring the legacy of the 1948 American Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land’, for which editor Harris was a research associate, and, more specifically, from a 2011 research forum at which the chapters were presented as papers. ‘Circulating’ (in the book title) is not intended literally as being cyclic but rather crossing borders, either among Aboriginal groups, or out of Aboriginal society by means of recordings, or back into Aboriginal society through processes of repatriation, or from a contemporary Western rock genre into one Aboriginal society in a juxtaposition of historical and contemporary experiences and levels of understandings. Similarly, ‘legacy’ (in the project title) is interpreted liberally.' (Introduction)

[Review Essay] Circulating Cultures : Exchanges of Australian Indigenous Music, Dance and Media Richard M. Moyle , 2015 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Aboriginal Studies , December no. 2 2015; (p. 76-78)

— Review of Circulating Cultures : Exchanges of Australian Indigenous Music, Dance and Media 2014 selected work criticism

'This book arises broadly from the research project ‘Exploring the legacy of the 1948 American Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land’, for which editor Harris was a research associate, and, more specifically, from a 2011 research forum at which the chapters were presented as papers. ‘Circulating’ (in the book title) is not intended literally as being cyclic but rather crossing borders, either among Aboriginal groups, or out of Aboriginal society by means of recordings, or back into Aboriginal society through processes of repatriation, or from a contemporary Western rock genre into one Aboriginal society in a juxtaposition of historical and contemporary experiences and levels of understandings. Similarly, ‘legacy’ (in the project title) is interpreted liberally.' (Introduction)

Last amended 19 Oct 2017 11:44:13
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