Now referred to as Indigenous Australians, the Aborigines or the original black inhabitants of Australia, developed their music in total isolation over several thousand years, until the Europeans began to settle in Australia.
Theirs is the most unique and unusual kind of traditional music. It is probably the oldest music that is still being performed and totally different from any other music as they have been handed down from generation to generation.
Types of Music
Indigenous Australian music is a part of the unique heritage of a 40-60,000 year history which produced the iconic didgeridoo. Contemporary fusions of Indigenous and Western styles (exemplified in the works of Yothu Yindi, Christine Anu and Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu) mark distinctly Australian contributions to world music.
During its early western history, Australia was a collection of British colonies, and Australian folk music and bush ballads such as Waltzing Matilda were heavily influenced by Anglo-Celtic traditions, while classical forms were derived from those of Europe.
Contemporary Australian music ranges across a broad spectrum with trends often concurrent with those of the US, the UK, and similar nations - notably in the Australian rock and Australian country music genres. Tastes have diversified along with post-World-War-II multicultural immigration to Australia.
They made music to accompany rituals and dances. Since they do not adhere to a particular system of notes, they can be difficult. They never developed instruments that play the notes of a scale.
The vocal music is performed by chanters producing all kinds of vocal sounds as well as words. It is usually accompanied by the beating of simple percussion instrument such as sticks and rattles, and hand-clapping.
Known as didgeridoo or didge, is it the single main instrument of the Indigenous Australians. It is a wind instrument often described as "drone Pipe." A didgeridoo is cylindrical or conical and can measure from 1 to 3 meters in length with most instruments measuring around 1 meter. In general, the longer the instrument, the lower will be the pitch or key.
The didgeridoo is made from a long hollow branch, blown like a horn at one end to give one deep note. The player uses the tongue and mouth and makes a vocal noise, at the same time he creates a buzzy sound rather like a loud harp.
While still playing, the didgeridoo player breathes in through the nose, so that it sounds a continuous drone beneath the voice, varying the tone to produce elaborate rhythms. The didgeridoo is commonly claimed to be the world's oldest wind instrument. In some Aboriginal cultures, only men are permitted to play it.
When the European settled in Australia, they brought their own folk music with them and produced new songs in the tradition of the new found land. The best-loved "Waltzing Matilda" is one of the best-known of these Australian songs. It is often referred as "Australia's unofficial national anthem."
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