For the sake of a song

The Authors


Allan Marett

Allan Marett is Emeritus Professor of Musicology at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music at the University of Sydney, where he was Professor until 2007. He was the founding Director of the National Recording Project for Indigenous Performance in Australia—an initiative that aims to record and document the highly endangered traditions of Australian Indigenous music and dance. His book Songs, Dreamings and Ghosts: The Wangga of North Australia won the 2006 Stanner Award, and the CD Rak Badjalarr: Wangga Songs by Bobby Lane, Northern Australia, which he co-authored with Linda Barwick and Lysbeth Ford, won a Northern Territory Indigenous Music award. Together with Linda Barwick and others, he has edited a number of anthologies of writing on Australian Indigenous music and endangered cultures. His current research focuses on the classical song traditions of Western Arnhem Land as well as the music and culture of the Daly region, where he has worked for more than 23 years. Marett is also active in the field of Sino–Japanese music history. He is a past President of the Musicological Society of Australia and past Vice-President of the International Council for Traditional Music.

Linda Barwick

Linda Barwick is Associate Professor (research only) at the University of Sydney and Director of the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC), an internationally acclaimed research facility established in 2003 by a number of Australian universities, led by the University of Sydney with support from the Australian Research Council (ARC). She is an ethnomusicologist who has undertaken fieldwork in Australia, Italy and the Philippines, and is particularly interested in the uses of digital technologies for extending access to research results by cultural-heritage communities. Recent song documentation projects include the ARC-funded Murriny Patha song project, the Western Arnhem Land song project, funded by the Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Program (School of Oriental nd African Studies, University of London), and the Iwaidja Documentation Project, funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung (based in the Max Planck Institute, Nijmegen). Her many publications include multimedia CDs accompanied by extensive scholarly notes, produced in collaboration with Indigenous singers and their communities. She has contributed to a number of initiatives to develop awareness and capacity in the digital humanities, including the Australian e-Humanities Network and several projects funded under the ARC’s e-research special research initiatives program.

Lysbeth Ford

Dr Lysbeth Julie Ford, Research Associate of the University of Sydney, is a linguist who has spent thirty years working with the last fluent speakers of four endangered Aboriginal languages from the Daly River region of Australia’s Northern Territory (NT), to document these morphologically complex languages. She has published grammars and dictionaries of these languages and, since 1994, collaborated with the University of Sydney’s ethno-musicologists Allan Marett and Linda Barwick to document the extensive song repertoires of the song men from these language groups. She is currently collaborating with a Yolngu woman elder from Elcho Island in the north-east of the NT to document milkarri, the women’s keening songs unique to this region.

While working for Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Lysbeth Ford trained many Indigenous linguists and taught semi-speakers of Indigenous languages literacy in these languages. In 1997, she co-authored a book about PhD education for mature-age students, and has contributed to recent ARC reports on Aboriginal English, and Indigenous secondary and post-secondary education in the NT. Since 2006, she has been based in Tasmania, but continues to undertake short-term consultancies in the field of language maintenance.