Author Identifier

Clint Bracknell

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Australian Studies


Taylor and Francis


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) / Kurongkurl Katitjin




Edith Cowan University - Open Access Support Scheme 2020

Grant Number

ARC Number : IN170100022


Bracknell, C. (2020). The Emotional Business of Noongar Song. Journal of Australian Studies, 1-14.


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.



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.

Research Themes

Society and Culture

Priority Areas

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander society and culture