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Every time I revisited my fieldsite I was asked for copies of photos or recordings and I wanted some way that these could be accessed without me having to be present. When I started visiting Erakor village in central Vanuatu there was intermittent electricity available, usually only in the evenings in the house I lived in.

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It's been a rich week for lovers of indigenous music.

On Tuesday (14 August) in Maningrida I attended the launch of the new Wurrurrumi Kun-borrk CD from Sydney University Press (which you can order online). In attendance were the songman Kevin Djimarr and notes-writer Murray Garde.

To quote the blurb on the flyer:

Kevin Djimarr, one of Western Arnhem Land’s pre-eminent composer-performers, presents a complete repertory of traditional kun-borrk songs from the Maningrida area. The album was recorded with the support of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and Maningrida Arts. Murray Garde's extensive notes, which accompany the audio CD, include authoritative translations and explanations of Djimarr’s song texts. They open up this extraordinary music to a national and international audience, while remaining true to Djimarr’s own particular artistic vision, communicating in a lively and accessible fashion the unique qualities of his work.

The CD is the first in a new series from the National Recording Project for Indigenous Performance in Australia. We are currently seeking funding to enable us to continue the series: please let us know of any thoughts!

On Friday night (17 August), the University of Sydney's own Professor of Musicology, Allan Marett, is presenting a free public talk as part of the Darwin Festival, "Why should we know about Aboriginal music?" Location: MAGNT Theatrette, Museum and Art Gallery of the NT, Date / Time: 17 August 2007, from 4.30pm.

And as I write we are gearing up for the 6th Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance, hosted by Charles Darwin University's School of Australian Indigenous Knowledge Systems, to be held on Saturday 18 August at Charles Darwin University's Casuarina Campus (Building 22 room 01). Registration is free but please do so online.
This will be a fantastic event, with participation by a number of indigenous performers.

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Following on our previous posting.....

The Fifth International East Nusantara Conference (Kupang, Indonesia, 1-3 August 2007) has an important theme for speakers of many endangered languages: Language and Cultural Aspects of Tourism and Sustainable Development. I don't know of work on this for endangered languages (apart from the negative - we can't share our language with outsiders because outsider tourist operators might use it and take business away from us) . So it'll be very interesting to hear the results.

Here's a call for papers from John Haan.

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Biwa is a generic term for long-necked, plucked lutes in Japan (written with the same characters as the Chinese pipa, also a plucked lute). Almost all biwa traditions involve oral narrative or poetic recitation with biwa accompaniment. Frank Davey, PARADISEC’s Audio Preservation Officer, who has been carefully digitising and listening to Hugh de Ferranti’s vast collection of field recordings of various biwa traditions (HDF1) over the past few months, describes the music as having a raw, powerful quality that speaks directly to the listener’s emotions. I asked Hugh about his long-standing involvement with the biwa tradition.

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from the website:

In the past, four International Conferences for East Nusantara Linguistics have been held; three in Leiden (1998, 2001, 2005), and one at the ANU in Canberra (2000). With this fifth conference the location moves to Indonesia, and more specifically to the East Nusantara region. Also, the focus of the conference has been expanded to include both language and culture. The conference will be hosted by Universitas Nusa Cendana (UNDANA), with the support of Prof. Dr. Frans Umbu Datta, Rektor.

The aim of this conference is to bring together linguists, anthropologists, ethnolgraphers, musicologists, and others who work in the east Nusantara region to share the results of their research with each other. The East Nusantara region includes eastern Indonesia and East Timor, and Austronesian as well as non-Austronesian languages.

The confernce will be held at the UNDANA Language Center (Pusat Bahasa) on the Penfui campus. A welcome gathering will be held on the evening of 1 August. Main conference presentations will take place 2-3 August, with a conference dinner on 2 August. The main conference will be followed by a one-day workshop on Alor-Pantar(-Timur) languages on 4 August. More information on this workshop will be circulated through a separate announcement.

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We don't know very much about the language of songs and poetry in many of the small societies in our region, so it's excellent that a group of researchers (Myf Turpin, Christina Eira, Tonya Stebbins and Stephen Morey) are putting on a workshop on the topic at the Australian Linguistics Society Conference 2007 in Adelaide, September 26-28. Here's the information:

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Our December conference is almost full, so if you were thinking of coming along, now is the time to register! The preliminary schedule is up, papers have been reviewed, everything is going along nicely (touch wood).

The third day of the conference is a workshop, with sections on audio and video recording, transcribing and managing your data, and producing outputs from this data. If this is more your thing you can come to just that. If you're interested in ELAN for transcribing or shoebox/toolbox, I thoroughly recommend it, but there'll be plenty of other useful stuff.

if you want to spend three years thinking and writing about languages and cultures of Australia and the Asia-Pacific region ...
Nod to Ethics committee: HEALTH WARNING: and you're not ESPECIALLY worried about whether you'll find a interesting job afterwards....

... applications for the 2007 APA/UPA scholarships at the University of Sydney are now open. Information and an application can be downloaded from:
http://www.usyd.edu.au/ro/training/postgraduate_awards.shtml

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While we were in Wadeye in July, our ARC project team (Linda Barwick, Allan Marett, Michael Walsh, Joe Blythe, Nick Reid and Lysbeth Ford) finalised our project website, which was formally approved by the Kardu Diminin elders on July 28. Wadeye has had a lot of bad press lately, but it really is an amazingly rich place for languages and songs. This website deals only with the public ritual song styles performed and owned by members of the Murriny-patha-speaking clans, the main genres being djanba, malgarrin and wurltjirri. Elders at Wadeye and our project team have been working hard to document all the song recordings: for example, so far we have identified 104 djanba songs, all of which seem to be in grammatical Murriny Patha, and the majority of them have been transcribed, glossed and translated.

Two other public ritual song genres performed in Wadeye are: wangga (owned and performed by speakers of Marri Tjebin and Marri Ammu, and the subject of Allan Marett's recent book Songs Dreamings and Ghosts); and lirrga, owned and performed by speakers of Marri Ngarr (Lys Ford and I have recently written paired articles about lirrga songs, forthcoming in the journal Musicology Australia).

For further details, see the website! Feedback welcome, either here or from the contact page on the website.

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Allan Marett and I spent yesterday meeting with the good folks from Sydney e-Scholarship regarding a publication project we have to archive some of our song recordings in the University of Sydney Library's Dspace repository and then link to them from an electronic publication we are developing about six repertories of wangga songs from the Daly region. The exciting thing about electronic publication is that we can embed the audio directly within the text, allowing us to cite our primary data in a much more immediate way (something that humanities scholars dealing with images and text have had available to them for a long time).

For those who haven't caught up with Allan's recent book Songs Dreamings and Ghosts (Wesleyan University Press, 2005), wangga is a genre of didjeridu-accompanied songs originating in the Daly region of the Top End. Generally speaking, each singer has composed or inherited a repertory of somewhere between 10 and 40 songs, which are performed in different combinations depending on the performance context.

The idea for the new book we are working on with linguist Lys Ford is to present and discuss linguistic and musical features of about 100 different song texts from six repertories in five endangered languages of the Daly Region: Batjamalh, Emmi, Mendhe, Marri Tjabin and Marri Ammu. Tommy Berrtjep, Bobby Lane , Jimmy Mulluk , and Billy Mandji were the main singers and composers of the four repertories from Belyuen NT, while Thomas Kungiung, Martin Warrigal Kungiung, John Dumoo, Wagin Dumoo, Charlie Brinkin and Maurice Ngulkur were the main composers involved with the two repertories from Wadeye NT (the Walakandha wangga and the Ma-yawa wangga).

So, we decided that to support the publication and preserve the archival integrity of the recordings, we would deposit in Dspace:

1. the master soundfile of the whole recording, named according to our fieldtape number
e.g. Marett_DAT98-11.wav (Marett fieldtape DAT98/11).

2. excerpted soundfiles of each song on the recording, named in sequence based on the fieldtape
e.g. Marett_DAT98-11-s01.wav (first song on the master recording). 128kbps MP3 files for web delivery will also be produced, named according to the same scheme but (of course!) with .mp3 extension.

3. text or image file indicating the start and end timecodes of the excerpted files within the master recording.

Usually for sound editing I use Sound Studio 3 on my Mac running OS10.4.6. This has the advantage of being able to produce mp3 files directly from within the application, as well as all the standard sound editing capabilities. Some Macs come with Sound Studio already loaded, but if you need to buy a license it's not too expensive ($US40.20 with education discount). I save marker information indicating song start and end points within the file (with AIFF this marker information is saved in the file header). Unfortunately there appears to be no way to export this marker information from within Sound Studio, so I've been saving a screen grab of the marker window as a graphic to archive along with the sound file. It would obviously be much more flexible and archivally sound to archive an xml or text file with the timecode information. I believe Audacity (free cross-platform sound editor) allows you to export marker ('label') information so I might investigate using that in future.

So once some of the relevant files are safely archived in the Library's Dspace, I'll report back here. The idea is that the text of the book will point to both the archival files in Dspace and the mp3 surrogates (which may or may not be archived in Dspace as well). Each file in Dspace gets its own digital object identifier in the form of a handle, a unique persistent web address, meaning that the reference to the sound file in the publication will remain even when servers and other elements of the web architecture change (for more information see the Handle System website).

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The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.
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