A study of Central Australian music

Ellis, Catherine J (1961) A study of Central Australian music. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The thesis is divided into four parts each dealing with a different aspect of the work on Australian aboriginal music. Part I discusses some of the early writings on the Australian aboriginas, and some of the prevalent misconceptions about their music. A brief account of the social structure of the Aranda tribe of Central Australia is included. Part II contains musical transcriptions and analyses of the sacred songs of the Aranda tribe. Recordings, transcriptions and translations of song-texts and myths are the work of T.G.H. Strehlew. There are 159 pages of my own musical transcriptions as well as a thirteen-page catalogue consisting of 121 rhythmic patterns, each extracted from one regular isorhythmic verse. This catalogue of rhythms provides much useful information on rhythmic idioms current throughout Central Australia. There are only eight irregular verses, with free rhythm, which are not included in the catalogue. The general characteristics of Central Australian music have been discussed, and intervals in frequent use in the music described. These intervals were arrived at by a method of filming the soundwaves of portions of thirteen verses measuring the frequencies and graphing the results. Fourteen graphs are included and eleven of these have the appropriate transcriptions added in such a way as to make possible accurate checking of both pitch and rhythm. Although a scale-pattern is not enunciated it is clear that the intervals used are quite different to those commonly found in western music. Part III is concerned with Australian aboriginal music as it has been found by workers in other areas. After comparing the work of Trevor Jemes on Arnhem Land music, E. Harold Davies on the music of Central and Southern Australias, my own work in Collaboration with N.B. Tindale on the music of the Tanganekald tribe of the south- east of South Australia and the Plntub1 tribe of Central Australia (one transcription is included), Biohard A. Waterman's work on the music of the Tirkalla tribe of Arnhem Land, and A. Moyle's writing on Tasmanian song-styles, it was found that the one basic musical idiom was common throughout these areas. There are many interesting regional differences. Part IV, the conclusion, is concerned with the present-day position of aboriginal music, and the possibilities of cultural assimilation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: James McNeill
Keywords: Music, Cultural anthropology
Date of Award: 1961
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1961-73668
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2019 08:56
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2019 08:56
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/73668

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