Australian Aboriginal Music

Australian Aboriginal Music

The group of indigenous Australians includes the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia. These people saving the pre-colonial heritage of Australia and still today they live in closed communities to maintain their very different lifestyle. Besides many other things, these groups are protecting the traditional music and songs of their lives.

Importance

Music is an integral part of indigenous Australians daily life. Traditional music and songs are expressing their understanding of the universe, attitude, and fears. Kids are taught to dance and sing freely about what they feel or what they do from a very young age. Later, kids are taught so-called karma songs that are different for every group or tribe. There are songs for special occasions, celebrations, and even mourning or healing. As most of indigenous Australians are promoting a very secluded life and their kids are not attending public schools, they have educational songs that are telling about natural forces or laws of life.

Musical Instruments

Despite the traditional instruments, indigenous Australians are always using incorporate hand clapping in their songs to maintain the rhythm and to add the specific group sound. Also slapping various parts of the body are used by singers of both man and woman.

Musical Instruments
Musical Instruments

The first group of instruments is called idiophonic because these instruments consist of two separate parts that are stuck together to give a percussive sound. The ordinary sticks can be involved in this group of instruments as they are very common for the music of these ethnic groups. Singers can hold two sticks in their hands and beat one to another to make a percussive rhythm. In order to produce different sounds, the shapes and lengths of those sticks can also be different. Another well-known instrument is a hollow long drum beaten by different sticks. Some tribes are using a rasp. A notched stick or the side of a spear-thrower is scraped by another piece of the wooden bar.

The next group of instruments can be assigned to the category of membraphones. The traditional skinned drum is the best example. The frame of this drum is made from the timber and got a shape of a single-headed hourglass and it is covered with a natural and specially prepared skin of a lizard. Sometimes, these drums can have extra elements of decorations or sacral patterns.

The third group of instruments is called aerophones, and here we have the most typical musical instrument for the indigenous Australians that is called didjeridu. Usually, this instrument is made of a long branch that is empty inside because of the termites. The average length of didjeridu is 1.5 meters long. Both ends of this instrument might be hollowed, and the mouthpiece should be smoothing a little bit more. The sound is made by the constant air pressure and vibrations of lips. The sound itself is complex, deep, slow, and harmonic. Even if the instrument seems quite primitive, a lot of skills and practice are required to make a proper and rhythmic sound. As a result, a skilled player is highly respected by the whole community and other tribes as well.