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Singing the Land: the Power of Performance in Aboriginal Life

Singing the Land: the Power of Performance in Aboriginal Life
Jill Stubington

For the Indigenous people of Australia, songs and dances, have encoded their history and religion, their social organisation, and their connectedness to the land for 60,000 years. As research assistant to the eminent musicologist Alice Moyle, and later on her own behalf, Jill Stubington spent many years between 1960 and 1980 in remote regions of Australia learning to listen to this music, to understand its complexity, its central role in identity, social cohesion, celebration and the resolution of family conflict. From 1960 new sound and film equipment widened the opportunities for recording; and soon the guitar and recorded popular music began to intermingle with the traditional styles. It became a matter of urgency to use the new technology to preserve the old culture. In three sections the book details the diverse culture, its musical instruments and practice; and provides listening guides to the available CDs and notations.

DR JILL STUBINGTON is a senior academic at the School of Music and Music Education, the University of New South Wales. She came to the study of Aboriginal Music in 1967 when she joined Alice Moyle at Monash University and copied, notated and edited hundreds of her recordings. She has taught and published widely on Aboriginal music and society and has been influential in introducing generations of students the study of non-Western music.


Readers are referred to Recordings by Australian Indigenous Artists, 1899–1998: A Guide to Commercially–Issued Sound recordings by Australian Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders (ScreenSound Australia/AIATSIS, 1999), which not only gives comprehensive details of all the recordings of performances by Indigenous peoples issued commercially up till 1998, but also details of where they are located.

In May 2007 AIATSIS began to reissue on CD all the recordings previously available on LP and cassette. For further information, readers should consult the following website:


Please note: Hard Cover format now available at Soft Cover format price.

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