Journal of Australian Studies
Taylor and Francis
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts / Kurongkurl Katitjin
Edith Cowan University - Open Access Support Scheme
This article explores connections between history, emotion and Aboriginal song in the south of Western Australia. Songs performed in the Noongar language in the 19th and early 20th centuries provide insight into the emotional worlds of Western Australia’s past. Historical documentation reveals how Noongar sang to deal with rapid changes associated with colonisation, with song acting as a conduit for cultural resilience. Today, the Noongar language is endangered, and few people remember the old songs. Community aspirations to claim, consolidate and enhance cultural heritage have driven a collaborative process of translating, interpreting and revitalising some of this repertoire. Listening to and performing Noongar songs at community gatherings today stirs strong emotions, feelings of connection to the past and senses of both loss and hope. In this context, songs are also key to maintaining links to ancestors, language and a sense of community.
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