Author Identifier

Clint Bracknell

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Musicology Australia


Taylor & Francis


Kurongkurl Katitjin




Bracknell, C., & Barwick, L. (2021). The fringe or the heart of things? Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musics in Australian music institutions. Musicology Australia, 42(2), 70-84.


Teetering on the fringe of Australian music scholarship and knowledge institutions, research and teaching of local Indigenous musics hold a marginal place, belying the positioning of Indigenous music-makers at the centre of international representations of Australian culture, and the dynamic local connections of Indigenous music-making to Australian landscapes and social realities. Music’s ubiquity and diversity worldwide show its potential as a tool to manage the changing world in societies of the past and present, yet this potential is largely neglected in contemporary Australia, and our theories and evidence base are limited by the narrow western focus within our knowledge institutions. The sheer weight of institutional investment in purportedly superior European musics prolongs Australia’s characteristic cultural cringe and the trivialization of Indigenous cultures. Recent calls to decolonize music education and decentre the study of western classical music ring hollow in the Australian context because, despite the glossy pictures and stated aspirations, there is a big gap at the heart of our music institutions. Addressing this gap requires not just greater inclusion of Indigenous people and their musics, but also, we argue, advocacy for Indigenous self-determination as core business.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.