'Requiem for a Beast is a remarkable exploration of the parallels between a young man's battle for psychological freedom and the processes that bind and blind us in society. Matt Ottley asks readers to be moved by beauty, truth and ultimately the knowledge of their own humanity.
The book contains a CD of orchestral music, composed by Matt Ottley, and Aboriginal song - another meeting of worlds like those in the words and images.'
Source: Back cover.
Author's note: "Notes on the CD
Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are warned that the Requiem for a Beast CD contains the voices of deceased persons.
The narrative of Requiem for a Beast could be set in a number of locations within Australia, but the Aboriginal language used in teh recording is from the Bundjalung Nation, whose country incorporates the north-east corner of New South Wales. The Bundjalung language is closely related to its southern neighbour, Gumbaynggirr, and to the Yugambeh language of south-east Queensland. Within Bundjalung there are also several dialects or regional variations base don family or kinship groups.
Since the late 1800s many Aboriginal people have been displaced from their own cultures and country by various government assimilation policies, also resulting the mixing of languages from different areas. In northern NSW this mixing of languages has included Bundjalung, Gumbaynggirr, Gidabul and Gamilaraay. The songs and stories recorded on this CD are indicative of this mixing of languages.
Aboriginal words can have multi-layered meanings. In the Ghsot Story song, for example (Movement One, Dies Irae), the words kidhur kilangangawan translate as 'grey dead person', the full meaning of which referes to the spirit of a deceased Aboriginal man. This is how Europeans came to be seen as ghosts. In many indigenous languages the word for European/whitefella was ghost.
Poor Fellow Song (movement Three, Lacrymosa) is one of many veresions, an dis generally accepted as being about someone who is not in their own country.
The Latin text for the four movements is an excerpt from the anonymous twelfth-century Roman Catholic poem known as Requiem, which has become an iconic European text, set to music by many composers through past centuries.
All music apart from the Bundjalung songs was composed by Matt Ottley. The Bundjalung songs are traditional, apart from Song 2 (Ngadhangahli), which was composed in the traditional form by Shayne Gordon."
(Requiem for a Beast, p. 90)
'... Monsters from classical myth have been lurking in the gullies of Western literature for a long time – in retellings and adaptations, and acting as symbols and metaphors for aspects of the human experience.'
'They’ve been surfacing recently in fantasy for children and young adults. Imaginary Medusas, realistically drawn Minotaurs, as well as a multitude of many-headed Scyllas, Hydras and Cerberuses: they all appear in Australian children’s and YA fiction. ...'
'The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) administers the oldest national prize for children’s literature in Australia. Each year, the CBCA confers “Book of the Year” awards to literature for young people in five categories: Older Readers, Younger Readers, Early Childhood, Picture Books and Information Books. In recent years the Picture Book category has emerged as a highly visible space within which the CBCA can contest discourses of cultural marginalization which construct Australian (‘colonial’) literature as inferior or adjunct to the major Anglophone literary traditions, and children’s literature as lesser than its adult counterpart. The CBCA has moved from asserting its authority by withholding judgment in the award’s early years towards asserting expertise via overtly politicized selections in the twenty-first century. Reading across the CBCA’s selections of picture books allows for insights into wider trends in Australian children’s literature and culture, and suggests a conscious engagement with social as well as literary values on the part of the CBCA in the twenty-first century.'
"The trope of lostness [...] animates complex critical considerations of culture and subjectivity as in Shaun Tan’s The Arrival (2006) and Matt Ottley’s Requiem for a Beast: A Work for Image, Word and Music (2007), where the experience of lostness shapes the protagonists’ journeys, and is understood (like the books themselves) as applicable to children and adults." (Source: introduction)