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Ethnographic sound collections and Australian Aboriginal Heritage: Kaytetye song traditions remembered
journal contributionposted on 2019-01-01, 00:00 authored by Jason GibsonJason Gibson
Song was one of the principal methods of transmitting knowledge in the fundamentally oral societies of Indigenous Australia. As the breadth of song traditions has greatly diminished over the past 200 years, archival recordings of song now form a significant resource of intangible cultural heritage for Australia’s Indigenous people. The song performances recorded in the past are now being rediscovered, remembered and in some cases revived. This paper presents findings from a recent project involving the return of a set of poorly documented recordings of songs to Kaytetye people in central Australia. These newly discovered recordings, the earliest ever made of Kaytetye singing, are shown to be an important heritage resource for these communities. Working collaboratively with senior song experts in order to gain a better understanding of the meaning and cultural significance of various songs, I document the how this discussion of audio material generated important social-histories and memories, reinforced local understandings of rights in cultural heritage, and revealed both continuities and changes in Kaytetye ceremonial and song practice.