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'This first volume of AJE comes out of the "Sounding the Earth: Music, Language and Acoustic Ecology" conference held in Launceston, Tasmania, in 2010. While the essays in this volume all touch, in some way, the ideas of music, language, and acoustic ecology, the "place" of human-made music occupies the work of Bruce Watson, and John Parham. Language, specifically the language of Nature Writing, is historicised in Noelene Kelly's work; the non-human music and language of trees (Barbara Holloway) and birds (Hollis Taylor) shift the focus to acts of listening, seeing, and representation. Isabelle Delmotte explores the sounds of silence in filmic media, and provides examples and an overview of what is meant by "acoustic ecology".' (Editor's abstract)
* Contents derived from the 2011 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
'There is a strong, though not uncontested view, that a tradition of 'place' or 'nature' writing has, until relatively recently, been largely absent in Australia. This essay examines the veracity of this claim, and suggests reasons for this alleged gap or 'silence' in our literature. It also considers the distinctive characteristics of Australian place writing as it has emerged over more recent decades and the ways in which this writing disrupts early representations of the continent as 'empty', particularly of Indigenous presence, but also of sound, of speech, of agency. This essay also suggests the potential for Australian nature writing to function contrapuntally, as both a form of response to this lively and expressive land, and as a means by which this same land may be invoked or 'sung' into the communicative space.' (Author's abstract)
'The tree known popularly and scientifically as the casuarina has been consistently noticed for the sounds made as wind passes through its unusual foliage of needles and leaf scales. The acoustic experience of the casuarina — with subspecies found throughout Australia — has been represented as 'haunted', 'grieving' and voicing the secret language of initiates. This essay traces intriguing conceptual and aesthetic representations of the 'voice' and its listeners found across both Aboriginal and white Australian cultures in traditional English verse, Aboriginal prose narrative, accounts of cultural practices, and hybrid blends of all three. The essay adopts the notion of 'listening to listening' to set out the many forms of story the tree's sounds generate their contribution to identifying places, and to suggest a specific Aboriginal song-line appears to underlie the divergent replications of tree-'voice' across southern Australia.' (Author's abstract)
This paper surveys textual references to the Australian pied butcherbird (Cracticus nigrogularis). We begin with my initial encounter with this songbird (in re-worked excerpts from the book Post Impressions), and then expand our review to aboriginal stories, historic ornithological reports and field guides, informal stories, archival Australian periodicals, children’s literature, literary references, and composers’ texts. Many of these reveal the tension between the superlative pied butcherbird vocal abilities and their ferocious hunting prowess. The paper shuns neither anecdote nor anthropomorphism as it attempts a new mode of interspecies narrative. I argue that anecdotes can contribute to an understanding of this understudied songbird. In inventorying pied butcherbird textual references, we find that our stories about them are ultimately stories about us as well—anthropomorphism seems to be an innate human proclivity. Reflecting on the lives of animals is of psychological, intellectual, and metaphysical significance for humans.