20 May 2019
Ngarra-Burria: Platform Paper by Chris Sainsbury
© Eric Avery
The launch, earlier this month, of Dr Chris Sainsbury's Platform Paper NGARRA-BURRIA: New music and the search for an Australian Sound (Currency House, May 2019) was a significant event in many ways, and for the AMC also important because of the role our organisation played in the early stages of the Ngarra-Burria: First Peoples Composers program, the pilot stage of which took place under the umbrella of our AMPlify artist development framework.
Ngarra-Burria - a program initiated by Sainsbury - lends its name to the Platform Paper, but his essay covers a much wider ground, explaining in detail the author's own background as a composer and musician and as a Dharug man, and moving on to talk about the oft-touted need for Australian composers to search for the elusive 'Australian sound'. Through examples inspired by work by participants in the Ngarra-Burria program, Sainsbury questions the sensibility of this pursuit. And through some examples from non-Indigenous composers works, he presents his observations regarding 'Indigenous referencing' (the inclusion of Indigenous music elements, or Indigenous culture and its themes or narratives) and the politics around this today.
Sainsbury suggests a number of concrete strategies for making that 'gentle correction' that he has called for in his earlier article for the AMC's Resonate magazine: for Australia's new music and classical sector to rethink their obligations, making room for Indigenous composers and artists in the space where, by right, they should have had it all along.
'While I don't endorse Indigenous referencing, I understand why it has been, and sometimes still is, a practice, for so many people are exploring the evolving Australian identity. As Australians we are negotiating who we are, our authenticity, our place', he writes.
> Platform Paper no. 59 NGARRA-BURRIA: New music and the search for an Australian Sound by Chris Sainsbury. For purchases (hard copy and eBook), see: Currency House website.
> See also: 'Christopher Sainsbury: Bark of the 'bidgee (2019)' - an article on Resonate by Malcolm Gillies (28 May 2019)
© Australian Music Centre (2019) — Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to reproduce this article either online or in print.
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