TRADITIONAL ABORIGINAL MUSIC
Music song and dance was and is still today a very important part of
Aboriginal life and customs. We had songs for every occasion, hunting
songs, funeral songs, gossip songs and songs of ancestors, landscapes,
animals, seasons, myths and
ABORIGINAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
Different tribes used various instruments including boomerangs, clubs,
sticks, hollow logs, drums, seed rattles and of course the didgeridoo.
Hand clapping and lap/thigh slapping were common. Decorated drums were
made from hollow logs and some covered with reptile skins. Large conch
shells were used in the northern coastal
areas. The best known of all Aboriginal musical instruments was the
SONGS OF THE DREAMTIME
A song is sung as a series comprising many short verses, each of which tells about a particular
event or place associated with the ancestor; or the
performance may be a full ceremonial one which includes
portrayal of relevant events in the performance of dances
accompanied by the
singing of the appropriate verses.
The song associated with any one totemic "line" will have the one melodic form throughout. This means,
in the case of very long "lines" of songs, where the ancestor
is reputed to have
crossed thousands of miles of territory,
that the characteristic melodic form will be found in areas with
different languages and musical techniques.
A song man was highly regarded. He was a special performer who composed
songs to describe day-to-day events. His extensive repertoire could be
enriched by songs handed down from ancestors. Like the skilled
didgeridoo player, the song man was often asked to perform for other
groups, and was rewarded for his services. He could be noted for his
voice of varying pitch, leading others in a chorus.
There were specialist leaders in dancing as well. This was a central
part of ceremonies and often involved miming, especially of the actions
of animals. The length of these songs could last several days, weeks and
Dancing styles varied throughout the hundreds of tribal groups. Dancing
was done with set arm, body and foot movements with a lot of foot
stamping. Today this is called "shake a leg ".The best dancers and
singers enjoyed wide reputations and high respect.
Dances often imitated animals or birds. Serious ritual or sacred dancing
was quite distinct from light hearted camp dancing that men, women and
children could share.