Music and its impact on Traditions of the World.

Have you ever noticed though with all the various occasions that a country celebrates or commemorates, there is always the presence of music? Even though governments may not provide adequate music education in schools because of financial constraints and other priorities, they know that these events need music because of its power. Music speaks when words fail. Music sets the mind free and restores the soul/spirit within us.

The National Multicultural Festival features local, national and international music, dance, food and creative arts. It is held from 15-17 February in Canberra.


 The traditional music of indigenous Australians holds significant meaning to their culture. Music is used to teach (a) the past- what must be known about their culture, (b) the present- about their place in it, and (c) the future- about its place in the world of nature and supernature.

Music, art and dance are important parts of Aboriginal culture because it is used as a means of communication.  Children learn and are taught about their culture through music, dance and art.

The Australian Aboriginal people developed three musical instruments - the didgeridoo, the bullroarer, and the gum-leaf. Most well-known is the didgeridoo. It is a simple wooden tube blown with the lips like a trumpet, which gains its sonic flexibility from controllable resonances of the player's vocal tract.


The didgeridoo, also spelt as didjeridoo has some similarity to bamboo trumpets or bronze horns. It has a slightly flaring wooden tube about 1.4 meters in length. It is simply hollowed out by natural termites from the trunk of one of the small trees in Arnhem Land on the northern coastline of central Australia. Once the tree is cut down, the instrument is cleaned out with a stick, the outside refined by scraping and then painted with traditional designs, and the blowing end smoothed by adding a rim of beeswax.


This is a wooden slat whirled in a circle on the end of a cord so that it rates about its axis and produces a pulsating low- pitched roar.


Originally intended to imitate bird calls, the gum leaf can also be used to play tunes. This is a leaf from a Eucalypt tree, held against the lips and blown so as to act as a vibrating value with ‘’blown open’’ configuration. The sounding pitch is controlled by vocal tract resonances and is typically about an octave above the female singing voice

National Apology Day.

This event marks the anniversary of the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples in the House of Representatives on 13 February 2008 by former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, apologising for past laws, policies and practices that have impacted on Australia’s First Nations Peoples, particularly members of the Stolen Generations. The motion was supported by the Opposition and passed through both houses of Parliament; Brendan Nelson (former Leader of the Opposition) gave a formal response. Many members of the Stolen Generations were present in the Chamber to hear the Apology and thousands more filled the Great Hall of Parliament House and flowed out onto the lawns to watch it on big screens. The Apology was broadcast across Australia.

It is good for a nation to account for its past mistakes and to remember with respect. However, in my opinion, every day can be an opportunity at a personal level to be an apology day- not in an unhealthy manner of course, but for us as individuals to consider our actions and how it can affect others.

I was watching an advertisement for an upcoming television show recently. The contestants are invited to make over another person’s house. We are told in the promo that they are neighbours. One of them commented that the other did not like colour ‘'so let’s give her colour’’.

I am appalled actually. Why, as a neighbour who is going to renovate her home give her something that she knows that she does not like. What is this going to do for neighbourly good will in the future?  What have our TV programmes come to when they dish out this sort of sick behaviour. Yes, it gives ratings but it only gets ratings because people watch it. What would happen if many people did not watch it and said by switching off that we are not prepared to tolerate these behaviours in our shows anymore. What does it say about us when we watch this type of thing? Does it say that we identify with these behaviours and think it is acceptable?

It is especially galling as in the promo; the other couple think carefully about what they think this couple would like and provide a makeover which is not only beautiful but a great match for the neighbour. 

This is just one example of a sick attitude prevailing in society. There seems to be no respect or at least only a little for other people. What happened to the golden rule ‘‘Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself’’?

Spiritually in the Catholic Church, we have a Sacrament where we can go an confess our sins/failures and through the power of the Sacrament be forgiven. We are given some sort of penance to do (a prayer/ action to do) as reparation- our way of saying sorry and making up for the damage our actions and/or words can cause.

So, apology at a personal and national level is important because it provides an opportunity to think and reflect, to become aware and then modify behaviours/ attitudes which are not healthy or helpful. Ridding ourselves of these one by one makes for a happier self to start with, then a ripple effect occurs with our families, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, parishioners, those whom we meet and do not know. Finally, as a nation we take on a different personality- a healthy and happier nation and ultimately a healthier and happier world.

‘’Music  cleanses the understanding, inspires it and lifts it into the realm which it would not reach if it was left to itself’’.