Much of Australia's culture is surrounded by songs. From the earliest Irish settlers they began singing tales of their journey to Australia, and the hardships upon arriving here. To hear them sung, is to feel yourself being transcended into another time and place.
As Australia grew, so did it's love of telling a tale in its music. There are literally hundreds of Australian songs about the land and it's people, new or natives. These songs are sung all the time in pubs, at festivals, celebrations and in foreign lands during wars, peace and sports. We even have our own Aussie Christmas carols, and carols we have given our own theme to. Australian's, whether indigenous or settled, love their songs!
Aboriginal music tells stories of their Dreamtime and their activities, while dances and diagrams drawn in the sand accompany oral tales. Their music can have uplifting tempos, or haunting mystical qualities that can draw you into their story. Aboriginal music is often recognizable for its now famous instrument, the didgeridoo (didjeridu). It is wind instrument, made from a termite-hollowed eucalyptus branch and about five feet long which produces a low, vibrating hum. It is one of the hardest instruments to play, requiring trained beathing to obtain the rythem required. The player must inhale through the nose while blowing into the instrument (circular breathing) in order to keep a constant drone (sustained tone).
Over the past 30 years Aboriginal music has not only made it's way into mainstream music, but it has also influenced other artists who often incorporate it into their different genres of music, including pop, rock, country and folk. The didgeridoo has also made its way into orchestral arrangements on world stages.
The origins of Australian bush music can be traced to songs sung by convicts who were sent to Australia during the early period of British colonization, from 1788. Early Australian ballads sing of the harsh ways of life, bushrangers, swagmen, drovers, stockmen and shearers, often against government tyranny. Classic bush songs from this era include: The Wild Colonial Boy, Click Go The Shears, The Eumeralla Shore, The Drover's Dream, The Queensland Drover, The Dying Stockman and Moreton Bay.
Australian Country Music has been influenced more by Celtic folk ballads than by American Country and Western music. Slim Dusty would undoubtably be one of the more popular country music singers, he epitomized life in rural Australia. He is best remembered for his 1957 song "A Pub With No Beer". Slim Dusty was Australia's most successful and prolific musical artist, with more Gold and Platinum albums than any other Australian artist.Australian country music in recent years has enjoyed a rise in popularity again with notable musicians of this genre including Gina Jeffries, Lee Kernaghan, Sara Storer and Kasey Chambers.
Australian rock, also called Oz rock, is rock music from Australia. Rock in Australia could probably be said to be born with the release of Bill Haley's "Rock Around The Clock" in 1956. It became the biggest-selling hit ever released in Australia up to that time. It wasn't long before Australia produced it's own rock legend Johnny O'Keefe. However, after the release of O'Keefes last major hit in 1961, rock died out for a while, being replace with "clean-cut" acts. Billy Thorpe's first hit in 1964 saw the emergence of rock again, and 'surf' rock/pop started to surface with local dance crazes like "The Stomp" being hugely popular at the time.
Most of the Australian pop/rock music of this era was unheard by international audiences. However a few such as Frank Ifield with his hit "I Remember You" was #1 in the UK & in the Top 5 in the U.S.A. Singer comedian and artist Rolf Harris also had several novelty hits during this period and went on to have his own popular variety show on British television. At the same time Australia had been invaded by British music. When the Beatles Australian tour arrived in Adelaide in 1964, an estimated 300,000 people (about a third of the city's population at that time) turned out to see them as their motorcade made its way from the airport to the city.
Throughout the 60's many Australian rock bands started up and slowly started to develop a more mature, progressive and distinctively Australian rock style. The early 1970s witnessed the first major rock festivals in Australia exemplified by the annual Sunbury festival, held outside Melbourne, Victoria each January from 1972 to 1975. Australian acts AC/DC, Little River Band and Split Enz lasted into the late 1970s and early 1980s and achieved the long sought-after international success that finally took Australian rock onto the world stage. After that a succession of Australian rock and pop artists started to achieve international acclaim, often toppling other international artists off the UK and USA music charts. Names such as INXS, Midnight Oil, Kylie Minogue, Natalia Imbuglia, Savage Garden, Grinspoon and other notable artists, became commonplace on international music charts.
Something for Kate is a rock band from Melbourne that has continued success since forming in 1994 and signing to the Murmur record label a year later when its three members were aged only 19. They have released six studio albums, two of which have topped Australia's ARIA Charts, with three others reaching the top 10.
Since the mid to late 2000s, the popularity of Psychedelic Rock music has made a comeback in Australia has been steadily climbing due in part to the worldwide success of Perth band, Tame Impala. In the late 2000s and early 2010s indie-electronic, indietronica and synthpop music rose in popularity, with Cut Copy, and Midnight Juggernauts being notable Australian exports and touring internationally.
Many Australian artists had their beginnings as pub bands and acts, and still the trend continues. Live music is very popular in Australia, especially in pubs and at festivals. Australia also has many pubs and festivals, so it is rich in talent no matter where you visit.
So come prepared to be excited by some great music and what could be tomorrows chart breaking artists.