Railway songs: the diaspora of Eastern Torres Strait Islander music as a reflection of people, identity and place

Salisbury, David (2009) Railway songs: the diaspora of Eastern Torres Strait Islander music as a reflection of people, identity and place. In: Mackinlay, E., Bartleet, B., and Barney, K., (eds.) Musical Islands: exploring connections between music place and research. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, pp. 94-118.

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Abstract

This article examines songs produced by Torres Strait workers employed as fettlers on the railways of North Queensland. The focal point is how these songs are a reflection of their identity as a community in diaspora and as Eastern Torres Strait Islanders. This is exemplified by the practice of writing songs, such as ‘266 Miles’, which center on specific geographical, place and location markers as a reflection of their lives working far from their home in the Torres Strait. As Lawe Davies & Neuenfeldt point out:

Some Islanders on the mainland use songs and the process of songwriting to create and celebrate connections to their traditional country, their island homes in the Torres Strait region (Lawe Davies & Neuenfeldt 2004: 138). After an overview of the Torres Strait context and immigration patterns to the mainland, the diaspora debate and use of contemporary music in Torres Strait culture is discussed. A selection of song text is then analyzed for elements of identity and location as they relate to aspects of the fettlers lives working on the railways. These songs are then compared to songs transcribed by Trevor Jones with the aim of establishing how the musical characteristics of these songs connect with Torres Strait tradition and identity. Final conclusions are then drawn from the data presented in this study.

Item ID: 11625
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
Keywords: Torres Strait, Diaspora, Railway Songs, Music, Place, People, Identity, Indigenous, Ethnomusicology
ISBN: 978-1-4438-0956-6
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2010 23:59
FoR Codes: 19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing > 190401 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Performing Arts @ 40%
19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing > 190409 Musicology and Ethnomusicology @ 40%
19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing > 190406 Music Composition @ 20%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 50%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950101 Music @ 50%
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