Volume 5 of the World Library has one side dedicated to aboriginal tribal music of Australia and the other to music of New Guinea.
Aboriginal people, or Indigenous Australians as they want to be called, are one of the oldest people in the world, and this recordings of traditional tribal music represent man’s music in its most “primitive” form. When listening to this recordings, it’s important to know that this music is just one element of a whole system of expression that includes body gestures , paintings, etc… and that it serves tribal functions, mistycal beliefs and the profound inter-relations between Man and Nature. The most important features of the music are singing along with rythm provided by various sticks and drums and the famous didjeridu, a hollow tube of wood played by blowing into it with a vibrating movement of the lips.
New Guinea is one of the largest island in the world with a population of a thousand different tribes with an equivalent amount of different languages and dialects. The recordings were made with different tribes in Eastern New Guinea and in the Papua territory of the island.
–Go here to read more about the history and culture of Indigenous Australians and here for New Guinea
-The australian and New Guinea recordings were made or provided and annoted by A. P Elkin, an Anglican clergyman and anthropologist at the Sidney University. Go here to read about his work
The diverse regional styles of french folk music haven’t been so well represented on records compared to other countries’s folk music. In France itself, the listener who is curious to discover such music really has to search for releases devoted to a particular style and area rather than an anthology representing the whole country. In fact, if some regions are relatively well documented, like Brittany and Auvergne for example, some are almost impossible to find on records. The most interesting records in term of quality of sound and documentation were made during the “Folk revival” of France that happened in the 1960’s and 1970’s,where many young people took interest in the old and rural traditons that were dying out because of the modern world. Like the introductory notes mentionned on this volume, interest to french folk traditions by outsiders started in the 19th century during the “Romantic period” but it was only the literary and poetic aspects of folk songs that were praised and studied. We have to wait for the phonograph age of the 20th century to really hear and appreciate the songs and music “as it was”. Some field recordings were made, mostly to the initiative of the “Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires” created by Georges-Henri Rivière in 1937 in Paris. The museum would take a scientific approch to the study of folklore and many ethnologists started to work for the museum and investigate musical traditions. Among them was Claudie Marcel-Dubois who was in charge of the phonotheque of the museum and whose pioneering work and studies are crucial to the developement of ethnomusicology in France. It is her recordings and notes that are used in this volume of “The World Library”. The recordings includes a broad genre of regional styles, both vocal and instrumental, from a music box (“Orgue de Barbarie”) player in the street of Paris to the music of the mountains of Central France, from the Basque Country and Corsica to Brittany… It’s a fascinating journey in sounds to an old and rural world that no longer exists today. (On the picture above:Claudie Marcel-Dubois)