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date: 15 October 2019

Australia locked

  • Allan Marett,
  • Catherine J. Ellis,
  • Margaret Gummow,
  • Roger Covell,
  • Gordon Kerry
  •  and Graeme Smith


Country and island continent. It is located between the Indian and Pacific oceans south of South-east Asia and is the only continent to comprise a single nation-state. The Australian Aborigines arrived c40,000 years ago and developed a highly stable society with complex cultural traditions, aspects of which survived colonization by the British from the 18th century. Of a total population of 18·84 million (est. 2000), c355,000 people are Aborigine. Since World War II Australia has played an increasing role in Asia and the Pacific, and in the last decades of the 20th century the influence of Asian immigrants has become important.

Aboriginal people in Australia live in a variety of environments, including communities with predominantly Aboriginal populations and small settlements (out stations) on traditional land, as well as in country towns and cities with mixed Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations. Exchange of songs and dances between groups has historically been a feature of Aboriginal culture, particularly at ceremonial occasions. Songs and dances indigenous to one area were frequently adopted by people in neighbouring areas. In recent decades access to modern transportation and the electronic media has increased the interchange of cultural property between geographically distant Aboriginal populations and has led to increased participation of Aboriginal musicians and dancers in national and global culture. Symptomatic of this trend is the dissemination of the didjeridu; traditionally a northern Australian instrument – to other areas of Australia, where it has been adopted as a pan-Australian symbol of Aboriginal identity, and the immense popularity of the didjeridu within world music and New Age markets (Neuenfeldt, ...

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Yearbook for Traditional Music
Miscellanea musicologica [Australia]
The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America