Perfect Beat, Vol 15, No 1 (2014)



Denis Crowdy1

Mark Evans2


This issue of Perfect Beat explores a range of topics, from song histories linked to indigenous communities, strategies to increase the profile of Maori music in Aotearoa/New Zealand, and changes to music sociality and listening habits associated with mobile music technology.

Andrew Hurley explores the Arrernte version of ‘Silent Night’, with its long history in Arrernte society and musical culture. Reactions to its performance by white tourists expose simplistic (and perhaps dominant) views on authenticity by many non-Aboriginal people. He then explores relationships between pre-existing music and music developed under missionary influence and examines a range of anthropological and ethnomusicological perspectives through the twentieth century. This is an enlightening case study on the constantly recurring issue of authenticity, one that demands further, nuanced studies to override long-running, essentialist, simplistic views of music and change held by many, particularly in relation to indigenous music.

Anthony Fung's research has examined particular groups of young people and their use of mobile music devices and associated technologies and resources. This article has an important Asian focus centred on Hong Kong, and relies on detailed examination of a small sample yielding valuable ethnographic data. Cultures of collection, sharing, storage, and peer taste expose important uses of music technology as we see the convergence of tools of communication with those of music collecting, listening and sharing.

Julie Rickwood discusses three songs that have become popular in a variety of community choirs around Australia. While the songs themselves—‘My Island Home’, ‘Baba Waiar’ and ‘Kulba Yaday’—have their own complex, heavily negotiated histories, Rickwood finds that the choirs performing them are largely ignorant of the deeper meanings contained within the songs. However, her research shows that the more community singers and their audiences are aware of the meaning and significance of the songs, ‘the better they can relate to them, and greater might be their respect for the song-maker, as well as Indigenous languages and cultures more generally’.

Jennifer Cattermole researches the various strategies and initiatives that have been employed in New Zealand to increase the quantity of Māori music broadcast on radio and digital outlets. The importance of this goal cannot be understated, as Cattermole notes:

This goal is both economically and culturally significant to Māori. Economically, broadcasting creates awareness of artists’ music, and this can lead to record and ticket sales; culturally, having Māori musicians tell Māori stories—especially using their language and traditional musical elements—is a way of healing some of the wounds caused by (neo)colonial denigration and subjugation.

While the New Zealand government and publicly funded agencies should be commended for their commitment to increase Māori content over recent decades, Cattermole demonstrates that it is time for new initiatives and directions to be set in order to achieve the goal.

This will be our last issue as editors, with Denis moving on from the editorial role but staying on the board, and Mark becoming the Executive Editor under a new journal structure. New editors are currently being sought and we look forward to introducing them in the first 2015 issue.


1. Denis Crowdy is a Senior Lecturer in Music at Macquarie University. His research has focused on the popular music of Melanesia, and he has published literature on topics including local stringband, local rock/reggae, and the traditional/jazz-rock fusion band Sanguma (from Papua New Guinea). He is co-editor of Perfect Beat.

2. Mark Evans is Head of Media, Music and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University, Sydney. He is author of Open Up the Doors: Music in the Modern Church (2006) and co-editor of Perfect Beat.


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