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NGARRA-BURRIA: New music and the search for an Australian Sound

Christopher Sainsbury

Platform Paper 59

Christopher Sainsbury

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In a considered account of composers’ pursuit of an Australian sound in contemporary music, from John Antill’s Corroboree to the rappers of today, Christopher Sainsbury, composer, academic, activist and member of the Dharug people, uncovers the powerful bond between heritage and musical expression in the members of Ngarra-burria: First Peoples Composers program. For non-Indigenous Australians the long tail of European tradition continues to burden our music, he says; but the new Indigenous composers draw their inspiration from their own history, their country, stories, politics. Years of separation and misunderstanding have led to the misappropriation of Aboriginal songs and rituals in search of Australian-ness. Sainsbury calls for a rethinking of this, based on respect, and a new collaboration to begin between First Peoples composers and the new music sector, in which the former can be recognised as creators and performers of a real Australian sound that echoes back to the dawn of history

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About the Author

Dr Christopher Sainsbury is an Australian Indigenous composer and performer, and a descendant of Australia’s first settled Aboriginal people—the Dharug (also known as Eora).