R. M. W. Dixon has been Professor of Linguistics at the Australian National University. He has also written grammars of five Australian Aboriginal languages from North Queensland. Dixon is currently (2009) an Adjunct Professor at the Cairns Campus of James Cook University.
'The Dyirbal people of the Cairns rainforest region in North Queensland have a rich heritage of song poetry, reflecting their way of life, their way of looking at the world, and their way of coping with invasion. This pioneering study examines the words and music of 174 songs, across five distinctive styles of performance, each with its own metrical pattern and linguistic and musical characteristics, describing the social context in which the songs were sung and explaining their message.
As sung by nineteen Dyirbal singers, this collection explores the poetic tradition of a culture which flourished in Australia long before European impact. As a detailed record of an ancient and disappearing literary tradition, it is invaluable. For language and music specialists it provides the unique vocabulary and grammatical patterning so characterisitc of Aboriginal song'. (Source: Back cover, UQP 1996 edition)