Monday 25 February 2013

Citations of the term "Bush Music"

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Bob Armstrong found the attached citation on the ANL TROVE website, an advertisement for some sheet bush music in the Maitland Mercury of April 1863. Polkas and Schottisches for 1 shilling a copy including postage. 

Bob Boltons' reply  13/1/2013

I'm aware that many of the locally arranged / written / popularised music tunes and sets for the popular social dances of the latter part of the 19th century were published with Local / Australian / Popular titles ... often simply a naming of the full set ... not necessarily the individual tunes. Very few of the tunes collected by field folklorists - such as John Meredith (founder of the Bush Music Club) and his BMC associates and followers in other similar clubs and societies had such grandiose names. 

I haven't actually analysed the relationship of 'local' tune and/or set names but many were known only by association with a local player ... occasionally with local area names ... or just the name of the dance (with or without an associated player's name.) Some later researchers have done a fair amount of matching up 'Australian-collected' tunes and sets with tunes and dance sets published by British / American /Australian music publishers. 

A typical path for dispersal of tunes without attached names - testified to in field-recorded interviews associated with tune collecting - would be the way that many "folk" players have recounted attending the local dance (often a fund-raising event for the local town's hospital / school / whatever) ... and the kids humming / singing / playing on portable instruments tunes that had caught their ears at the dance ... and the boast that, by the time the buggy or dray had reached their bush home, they had memorised ( ... at least fairly well ...) the best of the tunes - and these might stay in the family ... devoid of name or provenance ... right up until systematic recording began in the 1950s! 

further comments from Bob -
He picked up that reference as part of a lot of cross-posting centring around Peter Ellis , Keith McKenry,, Rob Willis ... and a few other folk historians who have become involved in a bit of niggling about the Bush Music Club "inventing" terms/events/practices under the name "Bush Music" / "Bush Dance" / "Bush dancing" / "Bush song" ... and that this wasn't reflected in "real Australian history' (... as some of them perceived it ...) My forward of a 1907 Reverend gentleman's newspaper account of "bush dancing" at a "bush dance" (noticed in the Dan Worrall CD ROM on world-wide late 19th / early 20th century traditions of (~) "House Dances" seems to have shaken some of them out of their dusty volumes of un-involved and dis-interested academics ... with their own barrows to push - and now we are finding lots of support for our preferred terminology ... via unbiased scans coming out of recent increases in access to 19th century publications - especially magazines and newspapers - with actual scanned texts of the entire publication visible over ... and linked to ... the downloadable text ( ... admittedly, as it comes straight out of [~] un-corrected OCR!)


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