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Dance of dispossession

Sheet Music: Score

Dance of dispossession : SATB a capella / Becky Llewellyn ; lyrics by John Kinsella, adapted by Becky Llewellyn.

by Becky Llewellyn (2001)

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  • Library Availability: 782.5554/LLE 1 — Available for loan
  • Instrumentation: SATB a cappella choir (or vocal quartet).
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  • Audio Sample

    Performance by Syntony from the CD Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 128.


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Dance of Dispossession was inspired by listening to poet John Kinsella read at the Adelaide Writer's Festival. I went straight to the book tent and found his poem Dispossession which seemed to sing off the page with its lists of words associated with what happened at and after white settlement. I met John and asked his permission to set the poem, which he agreed to. As I worked on it, though I could hear distorted words coming out of his words - how they sounded rather than how they looked, so the music embodies my imagined meanings of his words: John's 'protection' becomes my 'protect/shun'. Imagine how aborigines must have heard or misunderstood such words.

I have used a kind of Elizabethan dance form, the height of civilisation's gift - a jaunty counterpoint to the reality of the words, as the settlers remained in their cloistered 'society' mostly very unaware of how the fact of their presence changed everything for indigenous people here. Within the busy text narrative are moments of musical atonement (my take on John's word 'autonomy' is 'Atone! Ah, me!'). It is all artifice, at once playful and light, masking very dark subject matter and pain.

Published by: Australian Music Centre — 1 facsimile score (17p. -- A4 (portrait))

Difficulty: Advanced

Duration: 5 min.

Commission info: Commissioned by Syntony for 2002 concert season.

First performance by Syntony — 16 Feb 02. Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Flinders St, Adelaide

Includes song text.

Protest song.

Text from 'Dispossession' by John Kinsela, adapted by Becky Llewellyn.

Typeset edition.

ISMN: M-720037-43-1

Related products

This work is also available in the following products:

Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 128.
CD: Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 128.


- Browse other works for Unaccompanied SATB Choir

- Browse other works by Becky Llewellyn

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