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NRPIPA Symposium in Darwin 13-14 August 2011

Another stunning array of papers and associated performances will feature at the 10th Annual Symposium of NRPIPA (The National Recording Project for Indigenous Performance in Australia). This year there will be a focus on community databases for access to recordings.
Venue: North Australian Research Unit, The Australian National University, Darwin, 13–14 August 2011
Presented in association with:
The University of Sydney, ‘Intercultural Inquiry in a Transnational Context: Exploring the Legacy of the 1948 American–Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land’ (an Australian Research Council Discovery Project, hosted at PARADISEC, University of Sydney)
and The Australian National University’s School of Music, College of Arts & Social Sciences

Programme

Saturday 13 AUGUST 2011
9.30–10.30 Joe Gumbula and Martin Thomas ‘Ceremonial Responses to the Repatriation of Human Remains from Arnhem Land’
10.30–11.00 Amanda Harris ‘The Nutritionist and Her Chaperone: The American– Australian Expedition’s Fish Creek Camp in Arnhem Land’
11.30–12.30 Archie Brown, David Manmurulu, Charlie Mangulda, Bruce Birch and Linda Barwick ‘Welcoming the Upcoming Generations in Western Arnhem through Song’
12.30–1.00 Anthony Linden Jones ‘“You Couldn’t Take it Down in Our Scale”: Traditional Song and the Musical Score to CP Mountford’s Documentary Films’
2.00-2.30 Peter Williams ‘The Wollombi Corroboree’
2.30-3.00 Helen Rrikawuku Yunupiŋu ‘Milkarri Wäŋa-Ŋarakaŋur: Keening on Country’
3.00-3.30 Cathy Hilder, Anja Tait, Kate King and Tony Gray ‘Recording Stories: Revitalising and Maintaining Indigenous Languages in the Northern Territory Library’
4.00–4.30 Samuel Curkpatrick ‘Grooving with the Ancestors: Wägilak Song and the Australian Art Orchestra’
4.30–5.30 Aaron Corn ‘Nations of Song’

Sunday 14 August
9.00–9.30 Myfany Turpin ‘Text Setting in Warlpiri Yawulyu’
9.30–10.00 Nicholas Kirlew ‘Community Stories: The New Version of the Successful Ara Iritija Software’
10.00–10.30 Linda Barwick, Joe Blythe and John Mansfield ‘The Wadeye Song Database’
11.00–12.00 Genevieve Campbell Teresita Puruntatameri and the Wangatunga Strong Women ‘Ngariwanajirri — The Strong Kids Song’
12.00–1.00 Joe Blythe ‘From Malgarrin to Metallica: A Rockumentary History of Wadeye Music’
2.00–3.00 Matthew Martin, Pansy Nulgit, Sherika Nulgit and Sally Treloyn ‘Moving People and Places: The Sustaining Junba Project’
3.00–3.30 Allan Marett ‘It’s Not Just about Preserving Music and Dance: It’s Something Much Bigger’
4.00–5.00 Roundtable discussion on ‘Community Databases: Access, Training, Management’

UNESCO’s world day of audio-visual heritage

Yesterday (27 October) was the first celebration of UNESCO’s world day of audio-visual heritage. The trailer on that website, put together from the holdings of various audio-visual archives around the world, gives a flavour of the kind of material that is held in audio and film/video archives worldwide. Australia is fortunate to have many cultural institutions that hold and look after material recorded in Australia: the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA), the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Straid Islander Studies (AIATSIS), the National Library of Australia (NLA), the National Archives of Australia (NAA) and many others.

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Feast of indigenous song – Darwin

It’s been a rich week for lovers of indigenous music.
On Tuesday (14 August) in Maningrida I attended the launch of the new Wurrurrumi Kun-borrk CD from Sydney University Press (which you can order online). In attendance were the songman Kevin Djimarr and notes-writer Murray Garde.
To quote the blurb on the flyer:
Kevin Djimarr, one of Western Arnhem Land’s pre-eminent composer-performers, presents a complete repertory of traditional kun-borrk songs from the Maningrida area. The album was recorded with the support of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and Maningrida Arts. Murray Garde’s extensive notes, which accompany the audio CD, include authoritative translations and explanations of Djimarr’s song texts. They open up this extraordinary music to a national and international audience, while remaining true to Djimarr’s own particular artistic vision, communicating in a lively and accessible fashion the unique qualities of his work.
The CD is the first in a new series from the National Recording Project for Indigenous Performance in Australia. We are currently seeking funding to enable us to continue the series: please let us know of any thoughts!
On Friday night (17 August), the University of Sydney’s own Professor of Musicology, Allan Marett, is presenting a free public talk as part of the Darwin Festival, “Why should we know about Aboriginal music?” Location: MAGNT Theatrette, Museum and Art Gallery of the NT, Date / Time: 17 August 2007, from 4.30pm.
And as I write we are gearing up for the 6th Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance, hosted by Charles Darwin University’s School of Australian Indigenous Knowledge Systems, to be held on Saturday 18 August at Charles Darwin University’s Casuarina Campus (Building 22 room 01). Registration is free but please do so online.
This will be a fantastic event, with participation by a number of indigenous performers.

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i heart my windshield ;)

I’ve just been travelling in northern Australia with postgrad student Isabel Bickerdike recording songs for our Rausing-funded Western Arnhem Land song project. Conditions ranged from windy through very windy right up to very very windy and boy was I glad I’d invested in a Rycote windshield system! Even though the mike was actually blown over by the wind a couple of times (fortunately between songs rather than during one), with the aid of PARADISEC’s trusty Nagra V hard disk recorder and a Rode NT4 stereo condenser microphone, we came away with 89 nicely recorded song items (from four different song-sets). OK, this is a pricey setup, but there are cheaper ways to achieve good results (Rycote even have a windjammer for lapel mike) and I’d encourage anyone likely to be recording outdoors in windy conditions to consider building decent wind protection into the budget. It’s a small investment when you consider the overall costs of the field trip, and the results will be so much nicer to listen to and work on.

2006 ASRA conference this week “Listening”

Those of you in Canberra this week might be interested in the Australasian Sound Recordings Association annual conference “Listening” to be held 23-24 August at the National Film and Sound Archive. Among the several presentations of likely interest to readers of this blog will be the session on “Listening, Language and Culture” on 23 August, and a highlight will be the the Alice Moyle lecture to be delivered by Gupapungu elder Joe Gumbula (Galiwin’ku Knowledge Centre, Elcho Island) on 24 August at 9.15. See the conference programme for full details!

Updated Murriny Patha song website

While we were in Wadeye in July, our ARC project team (Linda Barwick, Allan Marett, Michael Walsh, Joe Blythe, Nick Reid and Lysbeth Ford) finalised our project website, which was formally approved by the Kardu Diminin elders on July 28. Wadeye has had a lot of bad press lately, but it really is an amazingly rich place for languages and songs. This website deals only with the public ritual song styles performed and owned by members of the Murriny-patha-speaking clans, the main genres being djanba, malgarrin and wurltjirri. Elders at Wadeye and our project team have been working hard to document all the song recordings: for example, so far we have identified 104 djanba songs, all of which seem to be in grammatical Murriny Patha, and the majority of them have been transcribed, glossed and translated.
Two other public ritual song genres performed in Wadeye are: wangga (owned and performed by speakers of Marri Tjebin and Marri Ammu, and the subject of Allan Marett’s recent book Songs Dreamings and Ghosts); and lirrga, owned and performed by speakers of Marri Ngarr (Lys Ford and I have recently written paired articles about lirrga songs, forthcoming in the journal Musicology Australia).
For further details, see the website! Feedback welcome, either here or from the contact page on the website.

Indexing and managing song recordings for e-publication

Allan Marett and I spent yesterday meeting with the good folks from Sydney e-Scholarship regarding a publication project we have to archive some of our song recordings in the University of Sydney Library’s Dspace repository and then link to them from an electronic publication we are developing about six repertories of wangga songs from the Daly region. The exciting thing about electronic publication is that we can embed the audio directly within the text, allowing us to cite our primary data in a much more immediate way (something that humanities scholars dealing with images and text have had available to them for a long time).
For those who haven’t caught up with Allan’s recent book Songs Dreamings and Ghosts (Wesleyan University Press, 2005), wangga is a genre of didjeridu-accompanied songs originating in the Daly region of the Top End. Generally speaking, each singer has composed or inherited a repertory of somewhere between 10 and 40 songs, which are performed in different combinations depending on the performance context.
The idea for the new book we are working on with linguist Lys Ford is to present and discuss linguistic and musical features of about 100 different song texts from six repertories in five endangered languages of the Daly Region: Batjamalh, Emmi, Mendhe, Marri Tjabin and Marri Ammu. Tommy Berrtjep, Bobby Lane , Jimmy Mulluk , and Billy Mandji were the main singers and composers of the four repertories from Belyuen NT, while Thomas Kungiung, Martin Warrigal Kungiung, John Dumoo, Wagin Dumoo, Charlie Brinkin and Maurice Ngulkur were the main composers involved with the two repertories from Wadeye NT (the Walakandha wangga and the Ma-yawa wangga).
So, we decided that to support the publication and preserve the archival integrity of the recordings, we would deposit in Dspace:
1. the master soundfile of the whole recording, named according to our fieldtape number
e.g. Marett_DAT98-11.wav (Marett fieldtape DAT98/11).
2. excerpted soundfiles of each song on the recording, named in sequence based on the fieldtape
e.g. Marett_DAT98-11-s01.wav (first song on the master recording). 128kbps MP3 files for web delivery will also be produced, named according to the same scheme but (of course!) with .mp3 extension.
3. text or image file indicating the start and end timecodes of the excerpted files within the master recording.
Usually for sound editing I use Sound Studio 3 on my Mac running OS10.4.6. This has the advantage of being able to produce mp3 files directly from within the application, as well as all the standard sound editing capabilities. Some Macs come with Sound Studio already loaded, but if you need to buy a license it’s not too expensive ($US40.20 with education discount). I save marker information indicating song start and end points within the file (with AIFF this marker information is saved in the file header). Unfortunately there appears to be no way to export this marker information from within Sound Studio, so I’ve been saving a screen grab of the marker window as a graphic to archive along with the sound file. It would obviously be much more flexible and archivally sound to archive an xml or text file with the timecode information. I believe Audacity (free cross-platform sound editor) allows you to export marker (‘label’) information so I might investigate using that in future.
So once some of the relevant files are safely archived in the Library’s Dspace, I’ll report back here. The idea is that the text of the book will point to both the archival files in Dspace and the mp3 surrogates (which may or may not be archived in Dspace as well). Each file in Dspace gets its own digital object identifier in the form of a handle, a unique persistent web address, meaning that the reference to the sound file in the publication will remain even when servers and other elements of the web architecture change (for more information see the Handle System website).