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Name: Leo Layne V. Tabuan Date: November 21, 2016

Course & Year: B.M. Pedagogy – 1 Subject: Asian Music
Instructor: Michael Jhun Padua Paceño


 To know more about the country Australia, its history and culture.
 To know the different music categories and the traditional music styles of
some regions in Australia.
 To let the students hear, see and understand the music of the indigenous people
in Australia.

The Country and its Brief History

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country comprising the

mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller
islands. It’s the world’s sixth-largest country by total area (2,969,907sq mi). Australia’s
capital is Canberra and its largest urban area is Sydney.

Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians 50,000 years before the first
British settlement in late 18th century. These indigenous Australians spoke languages
classifiable into roughly 250 groups. After the European discovery of the continent by
Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia’s eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770.
The population grew steadily in subsequent decades, and by the 1850s most of the
continent had been explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies

The name Australia is derived from the Latin Terra Australis which means
“southern land”, a name used for lands in the southern hemisphere since ancient times.

Human habitation of Australian continent is estimated to have begun between

42,000 and 48,000 years ago, possibly with the migration of people by land bridges and
short sea-crossings from what is now Southeast Asia. These first inhabitants may have
been ancestors of modern Indigenous Australians. Most Indigenous Australians were
hunter-gatherers with complex oral culture and spiritual values based on their worship
for the land and their belief. The northern coasts and waters of Australia were visited
occasionally by fishermen from Southeast Asia.

These Indigenous Australians are called the Aboriginal from the Latin “aborigine”
which means “from the beginning” and also meant “original inhabitant”.
Music Categories and Regions

Aboriginal music of Australia is primarily vocal music or singing. There is no

traditional instrument as such but considerable musical variety results from the use of
different kinds of instrumental sounds in song accompaniment.

Aboriginal music may be classified as ‘open’ (heard by all) or ‘closed’ (restricted

to the hearing of initiated men only).

Three general categories in the open class:

 Ritual or cult-owned
 Clan or family-owned
 Personal or individually-owned
The musical styles of the four following regions are characterized by their
accompanying instruments:

 Amhem Land(north of Northern Territory): paired sticks and didjeridu, the drone
tube (clan and individually-owned song item).
 Cape York Peninsula(northern sector of Queensland): skin drum and seed
rattles (individually-owned song items).
 North-central Coast of Western Australia: rasp or scraped spear thrower
(individually-owned song items).
 Central and Western Desert:1. Paired boomerang clapsticks; 2. Paired sticks;
lap-slapping by women, in association with either 1. Or 2. (cult-owned, clan-
owned or individually owned).

1. Lhambilbilk (didjeridoo, didjeridu or didgeridoo)

- Example from eastern Arnhem Land
- A hollowed branch or length of bamboo which is blown in
accompaniment to certain kinds of singing in northern parts of
Australia. Sound is produced mainly by lip vibration and various
techniques, such as continuous blowing and mouth sounds for
particular rhythmic patterns, require a high degree of expertise.

2. Kurdarrgu(Brolga Bird)
Lhambilbilk, wilbilk(paired sticks) and male voice
- The clan song of the Ngalmi, accompanied by lhambilbilk(didjeridu)
and paired sticks (wilbilk). The brolga bird (Kurdarrgu) is believed to
have kinship ties with the Ngalmi.
- Clan songs, usually performed with dancing may be sung publicly for
entertainment or during funerary rites.

3. “OI’ manili” (Old Man)

- A young Walbiri boy sings his own play song about an old man whose
boomerang had a hole in it. He has difficulty in producing the lowest
pitches in his song, but he beats the clapsticks (Kali) in a rhythmic and
confident manner. His performance amuses some of his companions,
whose voices can be heard in the background.
- Performers: Member of Walbiri tribal (and language) group
Region: Central Desert, Northern Territory

4. Korara (The Boat Song), Island-style song

- The term Island-style indicates that these items, sung in local
languages and composed by mainland Aboriginal singers, reflect the
style of many Torres Strait Island songs.
- Harmonised singing to the accompaniment of skin drum (poi) and seed
rattles (urlur) in widespread in Cape York, and any guitar or ukulele
player who happens to be present adds his own accompaniment and
joins in the singing.
- Songs are composed and rehearse for special events, including
Christmas celebrations.
Performers: Members of Kokomidien, Kundjen and Kokobera language

Region: Western Cape York, Queensland


Poi – the drum head of lizard or wallaby skin is either glued on or

attached by a ring of wire or cane to one end of short piece
of hollowed log.

Urlur – (seed rattles) segments of matchbox beans, strung


Spoons – used in accompaniment to non-traditional singing in parts

of Cape York, Queensland, providing a metallic
tinkling sound.