Performing arts of Australia
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Aboriginal song was and remains an integral part of Aboriginal culture since time immemorial. The most famous feature of their music is the didgeridoo. This wooden instrument, used amongst the Aboriginal clans of northern Australia, makes a distinctive droning sound and its use has been adopted by a wide variety of non-Aboriginal performers.
Aboriginal musicians have turned their hand to Western popular musical forms, often to considerable commercial success. Some notable examples include Archie Roach, the Warumpi Band, NoKTuRNL and Yothu Yindi.
Pop and rock
Australia has produced a wide variety of popular music. While many musicians and bands (some notable examples include the 1960s successes of The Easybeats and the folk-pop group The Seekers, through the heavy rock of AC/DC and the slick pop of INXS and more recently Savage Garden have had considerable international success, there remains some debate over whether Australian popular music really has a distinctive sound. Perhaps the most striking common feature of Australian music, like many other Australian art forms, is the dry, often self-deprecating humour evident in the lyrics.
Until the late 1960s, many have argued that Australian popular music was largely indistinguishable from imported music: British to begin with, then gradually more and more American in the post-war years. The sudden arrival of the 1960s underground movement into the mainstream in the early 1970s changed Australian music permanently: Skyhooks were far from the first people to write songs in Australia, by Australians, about Australia, but they were the first ones ever to make money doing it. The two best-selling Australian albums ever made (at that time) put Australian music on the map. Within a few years, the novelty had worn off and it became commonplace to hear distinctively Australian lyrics and sometimes sounds side-by-side with the imitators and the imports.
The national expansion of ABC youth radio station Triple J during the 1990s has greatly increased the visibility and availability of homegrown talent to listeners nationwide. Since the mid-1990s a string of successful alternative Australian acts have emerged - artists to achieve both underground (critical) and mainstream (commercial) success include silverchair, Grinspoon, Powderfinger and Jet.
Australia has a considerable history of classical performance, with symphony orchestras established around the state capitals in the early 20th century, as well as opera companies and other musical ensembles. However, relatively few Australian classical compositions have achieved lasting recognition.
There are a number of major performing arts organisations engaged in the performing arts. There was an enguiry held in 1999, chaired by Helen Nugent, the report of the enquiry led to significant change, particularly in government support through the Australia Council and the then Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.
|Parts of this article (those related to June 2007) are outdated. (November 2010)|
- Nugent (Chair), Helen; Michael Chaney; David Gonski; Catherine Walter (1999). Securing the Future - Inquiry into the Major Performing Arts (application/pdf Object). Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. Retrieved 2008-10-03.
- Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (2008-09-15). "Arts training bodies". Retrieved 2008-10-03. List of performing arts training institutions funded by the Australian Government
- RealTime - Australian contemporary arts magazine covering dance, performance, sound/music, visual arts, film and media art