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The Song of Tailitnama : for voice, six cellos and percussion

by Peter Sculthorpe (1974)

Score Sample

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Audio Sample

From the CD Madrugada

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Out of Print

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Madrugada : music from Latin America and Australia.

Library shelf no. CD 568 [Available for loan]

song of Tailitnama


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Work Details

Year: 1974

Instrumentation: Soprano, 6 cellos, percussion (2 players).

Duration: 11 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Dedication note: To David Matthews

First performance: by John Hopkins, Halina Nieckarz — 6 May 74.

Text from Central Australian Aboriginal rock wallaby song.

Text from the Northern Aranda poem: The song of Tailitnama, translated by T.G.H. Strehlow.

Written for the ABC television documentary Sun Music for Film, directed by Stafford Garner.


Article: Scored in black and white
by Gordon Kalton Williams — © News Limited
Source: Source: The Australian, 14 April 2005, pp.14

Resonate article: Narrating the Early Music of Ross Edwards by Andrew Robbie


Performances of this work

17 May 2012: at Bachianas Brasileiras (Gallery of Australian Design).

11 May 12: Various venues in Canberra, ACT

11 May 12: Various venues in Canberra, ACT

6 May 74: featuring John Hopkins, Halina Nieckarz.

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My favourite Australian art song repertoire

Posted by Australian Music Centre on 22 July, 2013

The AMC asked leading practitioners to select their favourite Australian art song repertoire, to provide delegates to the 2013 International Conference of Vocal Teachers (Brisbane 2013) with an introduction to this rich and diverse landscape.
The Song of Tailitnama (original version for soprano, 8 cellos, 2 percussion; arrangements available for mezzo-soprano with piano accompaniment – arranged by the composer, or classical guitar – arranged by Ken Murray; 8.5 mins) The distinctive material explored for the first time in this work went on to become important in a number of Sculthorpe’s compositions, so it is highly recommended that advanced students get inside this major work by this major Australian composer. Alternating slow, wordless, dramatic sections, with driving, rhythmic sections setting an Aboriginal text, this work is a substantial addition to a vocal program. The main challenge for the singer lies in switching between the contrasting vocal range and vocal demands of the alternating sections (high and sustained in the slow sections, low and punchy in the fast sections). The singer needs to work closely with the guitarist or pianist to achieve the tight ensemble, rhythmic accuracy, stamina, and total security with the form of this extended piece, that are required for a successful performance. A strong, dramatic vocal quality is needed for this work.
Jeannie Marsh