MacDonald Downs (NT) 1930

Supplementary to 'Anthropological Expedition to MacDonald Downs, Central Australia. Journal and field notes by Norman B. Tindale. Aug. - Sept. 1930. Adelaide, South Australia. 1930', AA 338/1/6

This series contains restricted material.

This item consists of 13 (plus 1 spoilt) wax cylinders surviving from a total of 19 recorded by Norman B Tindale and Edward H Davies during the University of Adelaide's Board for Anthropological Research expedition to MacDonald Downs in 1930. In his field journal, Tindale noted that: 'the song outlines and translations recorded here were written by me. Dr Harold Davies supervised the operation of the recording gramophone' (AA 338/1/6, p. 126). Much of the material is restricted.

Tindale's wax cylinder recording method involved making two recordings of each song, 'the first was played back to the aboriginal, who then again sang it. Such repeats have never been replayed, they are virgin, awaiting some sophisticated system of reproduction' (letter from Tindale to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, 6 Feb 1975).

As there are gaps in the surviving collection of wax records and in the associated documentation, this item description provides two lists below. The first lists each surviving wax cylinder (some of which are damaged, as indicated). The cylinders' contents are identified with song numbers provided by Tindale, and these correspond to items found in the second list, which indicates all of the songs recorded during the expedition. Crosschecking reveals which songs survive in audio form and which exist only in written form.

With regard to Tindale's song transcriptions, note that English translations are not always provided. Untranslated songs are often accompanied by a note indicating that the singer did not know the meaning of the song. For further documentation see: 'Anthropological Expedition to MacDonald Downs, Central Australia. Journal and field notes by Norman B. Tindale. Aug.-Sept.1930. Adelaide, South Australia. 1930' (AA 338/1/6, pp. 127-143); the S. A. Museum Speech and Sound Collections register (Nos. AS 19-44); and the MacDonald Downs and Cockatoo Creek song notebook (AA 338/12/1/1).

According to Tindale's MacDonald Downs field journal (AA 338/1/6, pp. 127-143), the wax cylinder records contain the following song and speech recordings:

AA 338/11/1/

  • Record 1. Contains song 1
    [No audio. Tape No. 9566; TT3; R7&8; F1; AS19]

  • Record 2. Contains songs 2 & 3
    [Track 1. Tape No. 9566; TT3; R9; F2; AS20-21]

  • Record 5. Contains songs 6 & 7 [damaged]
    [Track 2. Tape No. 9574; TT12; R1; F5; AS24-25]

  • Record 6. Contains songs 8 & 9
    [Track 3. Tape No. 9566; TT3; R10; F6; AS26-27]

  • Record 7. Contains songs 9 & 10
    [Track 4. Tape No. 9567; TT4; R1; F7; AS27-28]

  • Record 8. Contains song 11
    [Track 5. Tape No. 9567; TT4; R2; F8; AS 29]

  • Record 11 & 12. 20 Iliaura words with English equivalents
    [Track 6. Tape No. 9574; TT12; R2; F12; AS32-33]

  • Record 13. Contains song 14 [damaged]
    [Track 7. AS 34]

  • Record 14. Contains song 15 & 16 (a conversation)
    [Track 8. Tape No. 9567; TT4; R3; F14; AS35-36]

  • Record 15. Contains songs 17 & 18
    [Track 9. Tape No. 9567; TT4; R4; F15; AS37-38]

  • Record 16. Contains songs 18 & 19
    [Track 10. Tape No. 9574; TT12; R3; F16; AS38-39]

  • Record 18. Contains songs 21 & 22
    [Track 11. Tape No. 9574; TT12; R4; F18; AS41-42]

  • Record 19. Contains songs 22, 23 & 24
    [Track 12. Tape No. 9574; TT12; R5; F19; AS42-44]

  • Unnumbered cylinder labelled 'Spoilt' and a recording from the Mount Liebig H Series
    [Track 13. Tape No. 9574; TT12; R6&7; F19]

The full list of song and speech texts appearing in Tindale's MacDonald Downs field journal (AA 338/1/6, pp. 127-143) is:

  • Akeiwa Pondja from Abmoara Creek (Fraser Creek)
    [Song 1; AS19]

  • Tjalku berididja pondja (a bird song)
    [Song 2; AS20]

  • Ranga pondja (dog song)
    [Song 3; AS21]

  • Ilpindja, a song from the north
    [Song 4; AS22. No audio nor transcription]

  • Eritja (a)pondja (eagle song)
    [Song 5; AS23. No audio nor transcription]

  • Apulla (circumcision song)
    [Song 6; AS24]

  • To make the bullroarer (from Aitjilara, Hatches Creek)
    [Song 7; AS25]

  • Apulja pondja
    [Song 8; AS26]

  • Apulja song of Arandina alalta
    [Song 9; AS27]

  • Angkwana Pondja (from Kulanda)
    [Song 10; AS28]

  • Ngatalunga pondja (initiation song from Taparapara)
    [Song 11; AS29]

  • Apolla (circumcision song)
    [Song 12; AS30. No audio nor transcription]

  • Apolla (circumcision song)
    [Song 13; AS31. No audio nor transcription]

  • Language trials. Iliaura words
    [Record XI; AS32]

  • Language trails. English equivalent
    [Record XII; AS33]

  • Anmanda Pondja (sex lure song)
    [Song 14; AS34]

  • Anmanda Pondja from Aritjelara
    [Song 15; AS35]

  • A conversation
    [No. 16; AS36]

  • Agalta (rabbit bandicoot) Pondja
    [Song 17; AS37]

  • Pondja Agarta
    [Song 18; AS38]

  • Tarndangara Pondja
    [Song 19; AS39]

  • Aljtera song to 'sing' women
    [Song 20; AS40]

  • Apolla
    [Song 21; AS41]

  • Apolla
    [Song 22; AS42]

  • Alpalaita (gum tree witchetty grub) song
    [Song 23; AS43]

  • Fragment of song sung at Akeiwa ceremony (fragment only)
    [Song 24; AS44]

It is important to note that Tindale's assigning of songs to particular tribes in the S. A. Museum Speech and Sound Collections register is not comprehensive and may at times be misleading. Song 4 above, for example, is described as a song from the north whose meaning is unknown to the singer. The song is listed as 'Iliaura' in the Speech and Sound Collections register - it seems that the tribal affiliation of the singer is used by Tindale to identify the song with a particular tribal group. This practice presents obvious problems. In general, the actual language or cultural ownership of a particular song is not necessarily attested in the catalogue descriptions provided in this series. In many cases, such comment awaits further work upon the collection.

The wax cylinders listed above were formerly located in the Edward H Davies Collection (AA 71).

Tindale Tribes: Iliaura; Aranda.

CreatorDr Norman Barnett Tindale
ControlAA 338/11/1/Tracks 1-13
Date Range1930  -  1930
Quantity 17.5cm,   14   wax cylinders containing 22 songs and 2 speech records, 1 access CD
Series AA338/11
Tindale Tribes: