The music of
has an extensive history made of music
music is a part of the unique
heritage of a 40,000–60,000 year history which produced the iconic
didgeridoo. Contemporary fusions of Indigenous and Western styles
(exemplified in the works of No Fixed Address, Yothu Yindi, Christine
Anu and Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu) mark distinctly Australian
contributions to world music. During its early western history,
was a collection of British colonies, and Australian folk
music and bush ballads such as
influenced by Anglo-Celtic traditions, while classical forms were
derived from those of Europe. Contemporary Australian music ranges
across a broad spectrum with trends often concurrent with those of the
US, the UK, and similar nations – notably in the
Australian country music
Australian country music
genres. Tastes have diversified along with
World War II
World War II
multicultural immigration to Australia.
Notable Australian musicians include: the opera singers Dame Nellie
Melba and Dame Joan Sutherland; the bass baritone Peter Dawson,
country music stars
(Australia's biggest selling domestic
and John Williamson; solo artists John Farnham,
(five No. 1 Hot 100 hits, like "You're the One That
I Want"), Rick Price, Missy Higgins, Kylie Minogue, Natalie Imbruglia,
Guy Sebastian, Dami Im, Delta Goodrem, Sia Furler, Cody Simpson,
Jessica Mauboy, Havana Brown,
(No. 1 U.S. Billboard Hot 100 hit
with "Somebody That I Used to Know" ft. New Zealander Kimbra), Rick
Springfield (No. 1 Hot 100 hit with "Jessie's Girl") and Tina Arena,
Diana Anaid, pub rock band Cold Chisel, folk-rocker Paul Kelly; Dance
and Cut Copy; jazz guitarist Tommy Emmanuel;
pioneer rocker Johnny O'Keefe.
produced global folk-rock bands The Seekers, global rock and
Men At Work
Men At Work
(two No. 1 Hot 100 hits including "Down Under"
in 1983), the EasyBeats,
(No. 1 Hot 100 hit with "The One
That You Love"), Crowded House, AC/DC,
(No. 1 Hot 100 hit with
"Need You Tonight"), Little River Band,
And The Bad Seeds,
Midnight Oil, Dragon, Silverchair, Youth Group,
You Am I
You Am I
Powderfinger; Pendulum, Pop Rock duo
(two No. 1 Hot 100
hits including "Truly Madly Deeply" in 1998), pop punk band 5 Seconds
of Summer, alternative music acts the John Butler Trio, Xavier Rudd,
Jet, Wolfmother, Sick Puppies,
and The Vines. Other
popular artists and groups include The Veronicas, Ball Park Music,
Sticky Fingers, the Choirboys, Chantoozies, Saint Jude, Cheetah, Marc
Williams, Peter Andre, Goanna, Australian Crawl, Rose Tattoo, Colleen
Hewett, Keith Urban, The Angels, Ted Mullry Gang, Courtney Barnett,
Hush, Chocolate Starfish, the Mixtures, Helen Reddy, Diana Trask,
Thundamentals, San Cisco, Empire Of The Sun,
Azalea (No. 1 Hot 100 hit with "Fancy" in 2014). List of Billboard Hot
100 number-ones by Australian artists
1 Indigenous music
2 Folk music
2.1 Folk revival
3 Popular music
3.1 Country music
3.2 Children's music
3.3 R&B and soul music
3.5 Rock and pop
3.5.1 First wave of Australian rock
3.5.2 Second wave of Australian rock
3.5.3 Third wave of Australian rock
3.5.5 1990s: Indie rock
3.6 Electronic and dance music
3.10 Punk rock/pop punk
3.11 Alternative rock
4 Art music
4.1 Classical music
6 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links
Indigenous Australian music
Performance of Aboriginal song and dance in the Australian National
Maritime Museum in
Sydney with traditional instrument, the Didgeridoo.
Indigenous Australian music refers to the music of Aborigines and
Torres Strait Islanders. Music forms an integral part of the social,
cultural and ceremonial observances of these peoples, and has been so
for over 60,000 years. Traditional Indigenous music is best
characterised by the didgeridoo, the best-known instrument, which is
considered by some to be the world's oldest. Archaeological studies
of rock art in the
Northern Territory suggest people of the Kakadu
region were playing the instrument 15,000 years ago.
Indigenous Australian music has covered numerous styles,
including rock and roll, country, hip hop, and reggae. Jimmy Little
is regarded as the first Aboriginal performer to achieve mainstream
success, with his debut 1964 song "The Royal Telephone" highly popular
and successful. In 2005, Little was presented with an honorary
doctorate in music by the University of Sydney. Despite the
popularity of some of his work, Little failed to launch Indigenous
music in the country—from the 1970s onwards, groups such as Coloured
Stone, Warumpi Band, and No Fixed Address would help improve the image
of the genre. It would be
Yothu Yindi that would bring Indigenous
music to the mainstream, with their 1991 song "Treaty", from the album
Tribal Voice, becoming a hit. would go on to reach No. 11 on the
ARIA Singles Chart. The band's performances were based on the
Yolngu dance, and embodied a sharing of culture. The
success of Yothu Yindi—winners of eight ARIA Awards—was
followed in by Kev Carmody, Tiddas, Christine Anu, and numerous other
Indigenous Australian musicians.
Horace Watson recording the songs of Fanny Cochrane Smith, considered
to be the last fluent speaker of a Tasmanian language, 1903.
Folk-singer Bruce Watson, descendant of Watson, composed a song about
this picture and later performed it with singer Ronnie Summers, a
descendant of Smith.
Indigenous Australian music is unique, as it dates back more than
60,000 years to the prehistory of
Australia and continues the ancient
songlines through contemporary artists as diverse as: David Dahwurr
Hudson, Jimmy Little, Warumpi Band, Yothu Yindi, Tiddas, Wild Water,
Christine Anu, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, Saltwater Band, Nabarlek,
Nokturnl, the Pigram Brothers, Coloured Stone, Blekbala Mujik, Kev
Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter.
Main article: Australian folk music
Cover to Banjo Paterson's seminal 1905 collection of bush ballads,
entitled The Old Bush Songs
For much of its history, Australia's bush music belonged to an oral
and folkloric tradition, and was only later published in print in
volumes such as Banjo Paterson's Old Bush Songs, in the 1890s. The
distinctive themes and origins of Australia's "bush music" or "bush
band music" can be traced to the songs sung by the convicts who were
Australia during the early period of the British colonisation,
beginning in 1788. Early Australian ballads sing of the harsh ways of
life of the epoch and of such people and events as bushrangers,
swagmen, drovers, stockmen and shearers. Convict and bushranger verses
often railed against government tyranny. Classic bush songs on such
themes include: The Wild Colonial Boy, Click Go The Shears, The
Eumeralla Shore, The Drover's Dream, The Queensland Drover, The Dying
Stockman and Moreton Bay.
Later themes which endure to the present include the experiences of
war, of droughts and flooding rains, of Aboriginality and of the
railways and trucking routes which link Australia's vast distances.
Isolation and loneliness of life in the
Australian bush has been
another theme. Waltzing Matilda, often regarded as Australia's
unofficial National anthem, is a quintessential Australian folk song,
influenced by Celtic folk ballads. Country and folk artists such as
Tex Morton, Slim Dusty, Rolf Harris, The Bushwackers, John Williamson,
John Schumann of the band
Redgum have continued to record and
popularise the old bush ballads of
Australia through the 20th and into
the 21st century – and contemporary artists including Sara Storer
Lee Kernaghan draw heavily on this heritage.
Australia has a unique tradition of folk music, with origins in both
the indigenous music traditions of the original Australian
inhabitants, as well as the introduced folk music (including sea
shanties) of 18th and 19th century Europe. Celtic, English, German and
Scandinavian folk traditions predominated in this first wave of
European immigrant music. The Australian tradition is, in this sense,
related to the traditions of other countries with similar ethnic,
historical and political origins, such as New Zealand, Canada, and the
United States. The Australian indigenous tradition brought to this mix
novel elements, including new instruments, some of which are now
internationally familiar, such as the didgeridoo of Northern
Australia. A number of British singers have spent periods in Australia
and have included Australian material in their repertoires, e.g. A. L.
Lloyd, Martin Wyndham-Read and Eric Bogle.
Notable Australian exponents of the folk revival movement included
both European immigrants such as Eric Bogle, noted for his sad lament
to the battle of Gallipoli "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda", and
indigenous Australians like
Archie Roach and Paul Kelly. Kelly's
lyrics capture the vastness of the culture and landscape of Australia
by chronicling life about him for over 30 years. David Fricke from
Rolling Stone calls Kelly "one of the finest songwriters I have ever
heard, Australian or otherwise.". In the 1970s, Australian Folk Rock
brought both familiar and less familiar traditional songs, as well as
new compositions, to live venues and the airwaves. Notable artists
include The Bushwacker Band and Redgum.
Redgum are known for their
1983 anti-war protest song "I Was Only Nineteen", which peaked at No.
1 on the National singles charts. The 1990s brought Australian
Indigenous Folk Rock to the world, led by bands including Yothu Yindi.
Australia's long and continuous folk tradition continues strongly to
this day, with elements of folk music still present in many
contemporary artists including those generally thought of as Rock,
Heavy Metal and Alternative Music.
Main article: Australian country music
Melinda Schneider with folk-rocker Paul Kelly
Australia has a long tradition of country music, which has developed a
style quite distinct from its US counterpart. The early roots of
Australian country are related to traditional folk music traditions of
Ireland, England, Scotland and many diverse nations. "Botany Bay" from
the late 19th century is one example. Waltzing Matilda, often regarded
by foreigners as Australia's unofficial national anthem, is a
quintessential Australian country song, influenced more by Celtic folk
ballads than by American Country and Western music. This strain of
Australian country music, with lyrics focusing on strictly Australian
subjects, is generally known as "bush music" or "bush band music." The
Australian bush band is Melbourne's The Bushwackers,
active since the early 1970s, other well-known country singers include
Reg Lindsay, bush balladeer singer Buddy Williams, and entertainers
Johnny Ashcroft and Chad Morgan.
Another, more Americanized form of
Australian country music
Australian country music was
pioneered in the 1930s by such recording artists as Tex Morton, and
later popularized by Slim Dusty, best remembered for his 1957 song "A
Pub With No Beer" and Smoky Dawson. Dusty married singer-songwriter
Joy McKean in 1951 and went on to become Australia's biggest selling
domestic music artist with more than 7 million record sales.
British-born country singer and yodeller, Frank Ifield, was one of the
first Australian post-war performers to gain widespread international
recognition. After returning to the UK in 1959 Ifield was successful
in the early 1960s, becoming the first performer to have three
consecutive number-one hits on the UK charts: "I Remember You",
"Lovesick Blues" (both 1962) and "The Wayward Wind" (1963). "I
Remember You" was also a Top 5 hit in the US.
Australian country artists including Olivia Newton-John, Sherrie
Keith Urban have achieved considerable success in the USA.
In recent years local contemporary country music, featuring much
crossover with popular music, had popularity in Australia; notable
musicians of this genre include David Hudson, John Williamson, Gina
Jeffreys, Lee Kernaghan, Troy Cassar-Daley, Sara Storer, Felicity
Urquhart and Kasey Chambers. Others influenced by the genre include
Nick Cave, Paul Kelly, The John Butler Trio, Jagged Stone and The
Waifs. Popular Australian country songs include Click Go the Shears
(Traditional), Lights on the Hill (1973),
I Honestly Love You
I Honestly Love You (1974),
True Blue (1981), and
Not Pretty Enough
Not Pretty Enough (2002).
The Wiggles' lineup in 2007, riding in the Big Red Car during a
Children's music in
Australia developed gradually over the latter half
of the 20th century. The most recognised performers in that period
were those associated with the long-running Australian Broadcasting
Corporation series Playschool, including veteran actor-musician Don
Spencer and actor and singer Noni Hazlehurst. Children's music
remained a relatively small segment of the Australian music industry
until the emergence of groundbreaking children's group
The Wiggles in
the late 1990s. The multi-award-winning four-piece group rapidly
gained international popularity in the early 2000s and by the end of
the decade they had become one of the most popular children's groups
in the world.
The Wiggles now boasts a huge fanbase in many regions
including Australasia, Britain, Asia, and the Americas.
The Wiggles were named Business Review Weekly's top-earning
Australian entertainers for the fourth year in a row having earned
A$45 million in 2007. They have been called "the world's
biggest preschool band" and "your child's first rock band". The
group has achieved worldwide success with their children's albums,
videos, television series, and concert appearances. They have earned
seventeen gold, twelve platinum, three double-platinum, and ten
multi-platinum awards for sales of over 17 million DVDs and four
The Wiggles had become the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation's (ABC) most successful pre-school television program.
They have performed for over 1.5 million children in the US
between 2005 and 2008. They have won APRA song writing awards for
Best Children's Song three times and earned ADSDA's award for Highest
Selling Children's Album four times. They have been nominated for
ARIA's Best Children's Album award nineteen times, and won the award
twelve times. In 2003, they received ARIA's Outstanding
Achievement Award for their success in the U.S.
R&B and soul music
Guy Sebastian and
Jimmy Barnes 6 March 2008 State Theatre
R&B soul music had a significant impact on Australian's music,
although it is notable that many seminal recordings in this genre by
American acts of the late 20th century were not played on Australian
radio. Anecdotal evidence suggest that racism was a key factor—in
his book on the history of Australian radio, author and broadcaster
Wayne Mac recounts that when a local
Melbourne DJ of the 1960s played
Ike and Tina Turner single "River Deep Mountain High" it was
immediately pulled from the playlist by the station's program manager
for being "too noisy and too black". As a result, many local
soul/R&B hits of this period were cover versions recorded by
Australian acts. Despite radio's relucatance to play American
soul/R&B originals, these styles were avidly adopted by local
performers and covers of soul/R&B standards were staples in the
setlists of many acts including
Max Merritt and the Meteors, Doug
Parkinson, Jeff St John, The Groop, The Groove, The Twilights, Renee
Geyer and many others.
Renée Geyer is an Australian singer who came to prominence in the
mid-1970s, has long been regarded as one of the finest exponents of
jazz, soul and R&B idioms. She had commercial success as a
solo artist in Australia, with "
It's a Man's Man's World "Rock
Ian McFarlane described her as having a "rich, soulful,
passionate and husky vocal delivery". Geyer's iconic status in the
Australian music industry was recognised when she was inducted into
ARIA Hall of Fame
ARIA Hall of Fame on 14 July 2005.
Parallel with Geyer's success, American born vocalist Marcia Hines
emerged as one of Australia's most successful solo singers. She first
came to prominence in the early 1970s with critically acclaimed roles
in the local stage productions of Hair and
Jesus Christ Superstar
Jesus Christ Superstar (in
which she was the first African-American to play the role of Mary
Magdalene) before launching a solo career. By the late 1970s she was
one of Australia's top singing stars, winning several Queen of Pop
awards and hosting her own national TV variety series.
Following their initial dissolution in 1982
Cold Chisel lead vocalist
Jimmy Barnes embarked on a successful solo career that has continued
from the 1980s to the present. Many of Barnes' albums have featured
versions of songs from these genres and his chart-topping album Soul
Deep (1991) consisted entirely of covers of classic 1960s soul/R&B
covers. Australian soul singer/songwriters like Daniel Merriweather,
has after several successful collaborations with artists such as Mark
Ronson, released his official debut album, Love & War, in June
2009. It entered the UK Albums Chart at number two. After launching
his career as the winner of an early series of Australian Idol, soul
Guy Sebastian has also made an impact on this genre
Australia winning awards at the Urban Music Awards
New Zealand for Best Male Artist and Best R&B Album. Sebastian's
recent release "Like it Like That", was the highest selling Australian
artist single in 2009 and charted at No. 1 for two consecutive
Australian Idol finalist Paulini's debut single "Angel Eyes"
One Determined Heart both reached number one on the ARIA
charts and were certified platinum.
Paulini earned ARIA No. 1
Chart Awards for both the single and album. Her second album
Superwoman included the singles "Rough Day" and "So Over You", and
Paulini two nominations at the 2007 Urban Music Awards for
'Best R&B Album' and 'Best Female Artist'.
Australian Idol runner-up
Jessica Mauboy made her musical solo
debut in 2008 with the single "Running Back", which featured American
rapper Flo Rida, and peaked at number three on the ARIA Singles Chart,
eventually being certified double platinum. Her debut album Been
Waiting earned her seven nominations at the 2009 ARIA Music Awards,
winning the award of 'Highest Selling Single' for "Running Back".
Mauboy has continued to enjoy success with singles such as "Burn",
"Saturday Night" featuring
Ludacris and "Inescapable". R&B and pop
Cody Simpson has achieved international acclaim and has been
compared to the likes of
Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus.[citation
needed] Simpson's music has charted all over the world.[citation
Gabriella Cilmi possessing a voice and singing style
Amy Winehouse has managed to achieve a degree of
international success since 2007 with singles like "Sweet About Me".
Other singers in the R&B/soul genre include Jade MacRae, Israel
Stan Walker and Ricki-Lee Coulter, who experimented with R&B
for her first two albums, Ricki-Lee (2005) and Brand New Day (2007).
Lowrider (Australian band) is one of Australia's few indie pop soul
bands, forming in 2003. Lowrider released their self-titled debut
album Lowrider (Illusive Sounds) in 2006 and Diamond Amongst the
Thieves (Illusive Sounds) in 2008. In July 2010 Lowrider released
Round the World and was nominated for an Australian Music Industry
ARIA Music Awards
ARIA Music Awards for Best Urban Album.
Reggae had success on the radio charts in
Australia in the early 1980s
when Toots and the Maytals, the first artist to use the term
“reggae” in song, went to number one with their song “Beautiful
Woman”. Early reggae groups from
Australia included JJ
Roberts, No Fixed Address, The Igniters, and Untabu featuring Ron
Rock and pop
Main article: Australian rock
Australia has produced a wide variety of rock and popular music, from
the internationally successful groups AC/DC, INXS, Nick Cave, Savage
Garden, the Seekers, or pop divas Delta Goodrem,
Kylie Minogue to the
popular local content of John Farnham,
Jimmy Barnes or Paul Kelly.
Indigenous Australian music and
Australian jazz have also had
crossover influence on this genre. Early
Australian rock and roll
Col Joye and Johnny O'Keefe. O'Keefe formed a band in
1956; his hit Wild One made him the first Australian rock'n'roller to
reach the national charts. While US and British content dominated
airwaves and record sales into the 1960s, local successes began to
emerge – notably
The Easybeats and the folk-pop group The Seekers
had significant local success and some international recognition,
AC/DC had their first hits in
Australia before going on to
Pub rock was popular in the 1980s, and the era was typified by AC/DC,
Divinyls, Mental As Anything, Midnight Oil, The Choirboys, The Angels,
Noiseworks, Air Supply,
Cold Chisel and Icehouse.
INXS and Men at Work
also achieved fame worldwide, and the song "Down Under" became an
unofficial anthem for Australia.
Australian hip hop
Australian hip hop began in the early
1980s, primarily influenced by overseas works, but by the 1990s a
distinctive local style had emerged, with groups such as the Hilltop
Hoods achieving international acclaim for their work. The 1990s saw an
increase in the popularity of indie rock in Australia.
AC/DC and INXS
continued to achieve commercial success in the United States, whilst a
multitude of local bands, including Jebediah, Magic Dirt, Diana Anaid
(#1 on the Australian Indie Charts and #26 on the USA Billboard
Chart), Spiderbait, The Superjesus, Regurgitator, You Am I, Icecream
Silverchair and Something for Kate, were popular
throughout the country. A small electronic music scene emerged around
Sydney and Melbourne, with Severed Heads, Ollie Olsen's No, and Foil
all peaking in the 1990s.
Australian music experienced a rock renaissance in the 2000s with
groups such as The Vines, Jet, Airbourne and
Hilltop Hoods were the first Australian hip-hop group
to reach the top of the ARIA chart. Channel 10's Australian Idol
program was highly popular locally, as were the many "idols" produced.
First wave of Australian rock
The Delltones with four radio awards
In the mid-1950s, American rock and roll spread across the world.
Sydney's independent record label Festival Records was the first to
get on the bandwagon in Australia, releasing Bill Haley & His
Comets' "Rock Around the Clock" in 1956. It became the biggest-selling
Australian single ever released up to that time. American-born
entrepreneur Lee Gordon, who arrived in
Australia in 1953, played a
key role in establishing the popularity of rock & roll with his
famous "Big Show" tours, which brought to
Australia many leading
American rock'n'roll acts including Bill Haley & His Comets,
Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly
The Crickets and Jerry Lee Lewis. Gordon was also instrumental
in launching the career of Johnny O'Keefe, the first Australian rock
star, who rose to fame by imitating Americans like
Elvis Presley and
Little Richard. O'Keefe and other "first wave" bands were popular
until about 1961, when a wave of clean-cut family bands took their
Though mainstream audiences in the early sixties preferred a clean-cut
style – epitomised by the acts that appeared on the
Nine Network pop
show Bandstand – there were a number of 'grungier' guitar-oriented
bands in major cities like
Sydney and Melbourne, who were inspired by
American and British instrumental and surf acts like Britain's The
Shadows – who exerted an enormous influence on Australian and New
Zealand music prior to the emergence of
The Beatles – and American
acts like guitar legend
Dick Dale and The Surfaris. Notable Australian
instrumental groups of this period included The Atlantics, The
Denvermen, The Thunderbirds, The Planets, The Dee Jays, The Joy Boys,
The Fabulous Blue Jays and The Whispers.
Friday on My Mind, by The Easybeats.
Jazz was another important influence on the first wave of Australian
rock. Unlike the musicians in bands such as The Comets, or Elvis
Presley's backing band, who had rockabilly or country music
backgrounds, many musicians in Australian rock'n'roll bands – such
as Johnny O'Keefe's famous backing group The Dee Jays – had a solid
background in jazz.
Second wave of Australian rock
The "second wave" of
Australian rock is said to have begun in about
1964, and followed directly on the impact of The Beatles. In the
immediate wake of The Beatles' momentous Australian tour, many local
groups that had formerly played guitar-based instrumental music
recruited singers and took up the new 'beat' style. Some of the
best-known and most popular acts in this period were Billy Thorpe
& the Aztecs and Ray Brown & The Whispers, The Easybeats, The
Masters Apprentices, The Twilights, The Groop, The Groove, The Loved
Ones and cult acts like
The Throb and solo star Normie Rowe, who
quickly became Australia's most popular male pop vocalist. During this
period a wave of acts also came from New Zealand, including Ray
Columbus & the Invaders,
Max Merritt & The Meteors, Dinah Lee,
Larry's Rebels and The La De Das.
Many Australian bands and singers tried to enhance their careers by
moving overseas, in particular to England, then seen as the mecca of
popular music but few bands were successful and of those who relocated
to the UK only
The Seekers enjoyed any lasting success. Others that
made the journey were
The Easybeats (the first rock band to crack the
UK market), The Twilights, The Groove, Lloyds World and the La De Das.
Third wave of Australian rock
AC/DC performing at the
Ulster Hall in August 1979
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The "third wave" of
Australian rock began around 1970, by which time
most of the major local pop groups of the 1960s had dissolved and
former solo stars like
Normie Rowe had faded from view. Few acts from
this era attained major international success, and it was even
difficult to achieve success across Australia, due to low radio
airplay and the increasing dominance of overseas performers on the
charts. A pivotal event was the 1970 radio ban, which lasted from May
to October that year. The Ban was the climax of a simmering "pay for
play" dispute between major record companies and commercial radio
stations, who refused to pay a proposed new copyright fee for playing
pop records on air. The dispute erupted into open conflict in May
1970—many commercial stations boycotted records by the labels
involved and refused to list their releases on their Top 40 charts,
while the record companies in turn refused to supply radio with free
promotional copies of new releases.
An unexpected side-effect of the ban was that several emerging
Australian acts signed to independent labels (who were not part of the
dispute) scored hits with covers of overseas hits; these included The
Mixtures' cover of Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime" and Liv
Maessen's cover of Mary Hopkin's
Eurovision song "Knock, Knock Who's
Despite commercial radio resistance to the more progressive music
being produced by bands like Spectrum and Tully, acts as diverse as
AC/DC, Sherbet and
John Paul Young
John Paul Young were able to achieve major success
and develop a unique sound for Australian rock. From 1975, key agents
for the increased exposure of local music were the nationally
broadcast ABC-TV television pop show Countdown, which premiered in
late 1974, and Australia's first non-commercial all-rock radio station
Double Jay, which opened in January 1975.
Hard rock bands
Rose Tattoo and harmony rock group
Little River Band
Little River Band also found major
overseas success in the late 1970s and early 1980s, touring all over
the world. Meanwhile, a score of Australian expatriate solo performers
like Helen Reddy,
Olivia Newton-John and Peter Allen became major
stars in the USA and internationally. Icehouse also formed in the late
This period also saw bands like Skyhooks moving towards new wave
music, and the late 1970s saw the emergence of pioneering punk rock
bands like The Saints and
Radio Birdman, as well as electronic musical
groups, such as Cybotron,
Severed Heads and Essendon Airport. Perhaps
most influential of the 'underground' scenes, however, was the
burgeoning Australian pub rock circuit, which developed in the early
1970s and played a key role in the emergence of major bands of the
late 1970s and early 1980s, including
Cold Chisel and The Angels, and
Midnight Oil and Matt Finish. From the post-punk music scene
which had sprung up in
Melbourne came The Boys Next Door featuring
Nick Cave. The Boys Next Door would eventually become The Birthday
The Australian Music Industry as a business began to formalise during
the late 1960s and the 1970s. Although not taken seriously by the
mainstream business community in those early years, none could
discount the pioneering spirit and business acumen of the likes of
Michael Gudinski, Michael Chugg, Ray Evans, Dennis Charter, Glenn
Wheatley, Harry M. Miller, Harley Medcalf, Michael Browning, Peter
Rix, Ron Tudor, Roger Davies, Fred Bestall, Lance Reynolds, Alan Hely,
Frank Stivala, Sebastian Chase, Philip Jacobsen, Peter Karpin, Roger
Savage, John Sayers, Ernie Rose, Bill Armstrong (Australian music
producer), Kevin Jacobsen, Phil Dwyer, Ken Brodziak, Denis Handlin,
Stan Rofe, Jade Johnson, Terry Blamey and Ian 'Molly' Meldrum. These
were the people largely responsible for promoting and developing the
Australian music 'business' during those formative years.
Clubs and venues catering for the demand of live band entertainment
flourished in capital cities all over the country, however, the
central development of the Australian Music Industry during these
years was in
Sydney and Melbourne. Clubs such as Chequers, the Bondi
Lifesaver and the Coogee Bay Hotel in Sydney, and the Thumpin Tum,
Catcher, Berties, Sebastian's, the
Hard Rock Cafe
Hard Rock Cafe and the Q Club in
Melbourne were synonymous with the biggest names in Australian rock
& roll. In 1970 the first ever outdoor music festival, modelled on
Woodstock, was held at Ourimbah near Sydney, and several other
followed over the next two years, but most were a financial failure.
In 1972 the first festival that proved successful enough to be
repeated was the 1972 'Festival' which attracted some 35,000 music
fans from across the country to Sunbury, Melbourne.
'Pop' magazines such as
Go-Set (which began in 1966), the Daily
Planet, RAM, and Juke, and television programs such as Countdown,
Uptight, Sounds Unlimited and Happening 70 promoted Australian popular
music to a youth market who had never before experienced such media
exposure of their idols and stars. 'Pop Stars' were now being created
by direct marketing to a targeted teenage audience. Recording studios
such as 301, Alberts' and Trafalgar in
Sydney and Armstrong Studios
and TCS in
Melbourne became legendary. Independent label Mushroom
Records was founded in 1973 and although it struggled to survive for
its first two years of existence, it was saved in early 1975 by the
nationawide commercial breakthrough of Skyhooks, whose debut LP became
Australian rock album ever released up to that
time; this success enabled Mushroom to become a significant player in
the Australian music industry and compete with established companies
like EMI, CBS and Festival.
The bands and solo artists who shaped Australian Music during these
seminal years were: – The Choirboys, INXS, Noiseworks, Skyhooks,
AC/DC, Renée Geyer, Spectrum, Chain, Daddy Cool, Marcia Hines, Zoot,
The Masters Apprentices, Dragon, Air Supply, The Radiators, The
Angels, Axiom, Kevin Borich Express, Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band,
Carson, Cheetah, Richard Clapton, Cold Chisel, John Farnham, Healing
Lobby Loyde and the Coloured Balls, Hawking Bros, Flake,
Buffalo, Bjerre, Wendy Saddington, The Seekers, Ronnie Charles,
Company Caine, Trevor Spry,
Radio Birdman, Buster Brown, Little River
Band, Ray Burgess, Mental As Anything, Marty Rhone, Ariel, The La De
Das, Peter Allen, The Dingoes, Babeez, Mondo Rock, Icehouse, Midnight
Oil, Doug Parkinson, Jon English, Blackfeather, Ronnie Burns, The
Ferrets, Mike Brady, Martin Gellatley, Hush, Tully, Madder Lake,
Supernaut, Russell Morris, Allison Durbin, Olivia Newton-John, Ross D.
Wyllie, The News,
Max Merritt and the Meteors, Debra Byrne, Rose
Tattoo, The Reels, The Saints, Sebastian Hardie, Lash, William
Shakespeare, Samantha Sang, Sherbet, Silver Studs, John St Peters,
Jeff St John, Stylus, Jim Keays, Tamam Shud,
Ted Mulry Gang, Billy
Thorpe & the Aztecs, Ol' 55, Mark Holden, Lyndon Hart, Stevie
Wright, John Paul Young, Helen Reddy, Redgum, Hot City Bump Band, Jo
Jo Zep & The Falcons, Colleen Hewett, Linda George, Ayers Rock and
Nick Cave performing in 1986
The 1980s saw a breakthrough in the independence of Australian
Nick Cave said that before the 1980s, "
Australia still needed
America or England to tell them what was good". Shaddap You Face,
by Joe Dolce, became, and still remains, the most successful
Australian produced original-song of all time. An example of
Australians breaking free from convention came in TISM. Formed in
1982, the band is known for its anonymous members, outrageous stage
antics, and humorous lyrics. In the words of the band, "There's only
one factor left that makes us work. And that factor, I think, we've
burned away, with the crucible of time, into something that's actually
Men at Work, Divinyls, and Hoodoo Gurus, all formed between 1979 and
1981, would go on to be hugely successful worldwide. Men at Work's
"Down Under" hit number one in Australia, Europe, the UK, Canada, and
the United States, and was considered the theme song of Australia's
successful showing at the 1983 America's Cup. Hoodoo Gurus,
meanwhile, hit it big on the US college circuit—all of their 1980s
albums topped the chart. At the same time, a number of Australian
bands relocated to the U.K. and particularly London to further their
artistic and commercial endeavours, among whom were The Moodists, The
Go-Betweens, The Birthday Party, Laughing Clowns, Foetus, SPK, The
Triffids, and Tiny Town.
In the 1980s, numerous innovative
Australian rock bands arose. These
included Hunters & Collectors, The Church, TISM, Divinyls, Hoodoo
Gurus, Mondo Rock, The Sunnyboys, Men at Work, The Go-Betweens, The
Triffids, The Lime Spiders, Big Pig, The Celibate Rifles, the Cosmic
Psychos and the Hard-Ons. During this period a number of Australian
bands began to reflect their urban environment in songs dealing with
day-to-day experiences of inner-city life e.g. Paul Kelly & the
Coloured Girls perhaps best exemplified in his songs "From St Kilda to
Kings Cross" and "Leaps & Bounds", John Kennedy's Love Gone Wrong
in songs such us "King Street" and
The Mexican Spitfires in tracks
Sydney Town" and "Town Hall Steps." This decade also saw the
rise of world music groups like Dead Can Dance; of special importance
is Yothu Yindi, who helped found the field of Aboriginal rock. Then
Kylie Minogue began her music career in the late 1980s and
released "The Loco-Motion" which became the biggest selling single in
Australia for the decade and quickly catapulted her to worldwide
stardom. The first annual
ARIA Music Awards
ARIA Music Awards were held in 1987. John
Crowded House were the most successful artists at the
Main article: Grunge
Cosmic Psychos, one of several Australian bands which influenced and
interacted with the Seattle grunge scene
Grunge is a subgenre of alternative rock and a subculture that emerged
during the mid-1980s in
Australia and in the
Pacific Northwest U.S.
state of Washington. The early grunge movement in the US revolved
around Seattle's independent record label
Sub Pop and that region's
underground music scene. By the early 1990s its popularity had spread,
with grunge bands appearing in California, then emerging in other
parts of the
United States and in Australia, building strong
followings and signing major record deals. Mark Arm, the vocalist for
the Seattle band Green River—and later Mudhoney—stated that the
term had been used in
Australia in the mid-1980s to describe bands
such as King Snake Roost, The Scientists, Salamander Jim, and Beasts
of Bourbon. Arm used grunge as a descriptive term rather than a
genre term, but it eventually came to describe the punk/metal hybrid
sound of the Seattle music scene. C
Several Australian bands, including The Scientists,
Cosmic Psychos and
Feedtime, are cited as precursors to grunge, their music influencing
the Seattle scene through the college radio broadcasts of Sub Pop
founder Jonathan Poneman and members of Mudhoney. Chris Dubrow
The Guardian states that in the late 1980s, Australia's
"sticky-floored...alternative pub scene" in seedy inner-city areas
produced grunge bands with "raw and awkward energy" such as The
Scientists, X, Beasts of Bourbon, feedtime,
Cosmic Psychos and
Lubricated Goat. Dubrow said "Cobain...admitted the Australian
wave was a big influence" on his music.
Everett True states that
"[t]here's more of an argument to be had for grunge beginning in
Australia with the Scientists and their scrawny punk ilk."
1990s: Indie rock
Main article: Australian indie rock
The Living End
The Living End were successful internationally in
The 1990s saw continued overseas success from groups such as
AC/DC, INXS, Men at Work, Midnight Oil, The Bad Seeds, and
a new indie rock scene started to develop locally. Sydney-based Ratcat
were the first new band to achieve a mainstream following, while
bands such as the
Hoodoo Gurus got off to a slower start; their debut
Stoneage Romeos earned a small following but failed to captivate
a mainstream that at the time "didn't get it". Later reviews would
describe the band as "integral to the story of Aussie indie music",
influencing bands including
Frenzal Rhomb and Jet. The band would
go on to become an
ARIA Hall of Fame
ARIA Hall of Fame inductee. The Church,
meanwhile, was highly successful in the 1980s, only to see their
careers diminish in the next decade; 1994's
Sometime Anywhere saw the
band recede from a mainstream audience.
Alternative rock began to gain popularity midway through the 1990s,
with grunge and
Britpop styles especially popular, resulting in a new
wave of Australian bands. Some, such as Savage Garden, The Living End
and Silverchair, also gained quick success in the United States,
while You Am I, Jebediah, Magic Dirt, Something for Kate, Icecream
Powderfinger gained more success locally. Bands such as
Spiderbait were hit heavily by the post-grunge
backlash, losing in sales and critical acclaim.
Much of the success of rock in
Australia is attributed to the
non-commercial Australian Broadcasting Corporation's radio station
Triple J, which focuses heavily on Australian alternative music, and
has done so since its formation as 2JJ in 1975. Throughout the
station's history, they have helped jump start the careers of numerous
bands, through programs such as Unearthed, the Australian Music
program Home & Hosed and the Hottest 100.
Big Day Out
Big Day Out festival has showcased Australian and international
acts, with line-ups spanning multiple genres, with an alternative
focus. It has become highly popular amongst musicians; Foo Fighters
Dave Grohl said "We play the
Big Day Out
Big Day Out because it's the
best tour in the world. You ask any band in the world – they all
want to play the Big Day Out, every single one of them." Other
festivals, such as Homebake, Livid, and Splendour in the Grass, are
also rock focused, and together with
Big Day Out
Big Day Out are "united by the
dominant presence of the indie-guitar scene".
Australia made its
first appearance in the
Eurovision Song Contest 2015 after being
granted a spot in the final by the EBU.
Electronic and dance music
Australian electronic music duo The Presets
Pendulum bassist Gareth McGrillen. The band mixes numerous genres,
Electronic music in
Australia emerged in the 1990s, but takes elements
from funk, house, techno, trance and numerous other genres. Early
innovators of the genre in
Australia include Severed Heads, who formed
in 1979 and were the first electronic group to play the Big Day
Out. The band achieved long term success, winning an ARIA Award in
2005 for "Best Original Soundtrack" for The Illustrated Family Doctor,
where lead singer
Tom Ellard said the band would never fit into
mainstream music. FSOM members included Davide Carbone, Josh
Abrahams and Steve Robbins, were an Australian electronic music
groups. They released tracks on Candyline Records. Frank De Wulf's,
Two Thumbs Records and Carl Cox's Ultimatum. FSOM also played at
Big Day Out
Big Day Out festivals and also supported artists including
Björk, Tricky and The Prodigy. Future Sound of
Melbourne won the ARIA
Award for "Best Dance Release" for their Chapter One album in 1996.
The Avalanches released their debut album Since I Left You.
The genre has developed a following, to the point the University of
Adelaide offers an Electronic Music Unit, teaching studio production
and music technology. The
School of Synthesis
School of Synthesis was also set up in
Melbourne by renowned artists including
Davide Carbone to specifically
cater to Australian Electronic producers. Traditional rock bands such
Regurgitator have developed an original sound by combining heavy
guitars and electronic influences, and rock-electro groups, most
notably Rogue Traders, have become popular with mainstream
audiences. The genre is most popular in Melbourne, with
multiple music festivals held in the city. However, Cyclic
Defrost, the only specialist electronic music magazine in Australia,
was started in
Sydney (in 1998) and is still based there.
Radio still lags somewhat behind the success of the genre—producer
and artist manager Andrew Penhallow told
Australian Music Online
Australian Music Online that
"the local music media have often overlooked the fact that this genre
has been flying the flag for Australian music overseas". Over the
past fifteen years, bands and producers such as Ollie Olsen,
Angelspit, Cut Copy, The Presets, Miami Horror, Bag Raiders, The
Potbelleez, Art vs. Science, Empire of the Sun, Sneaky Sound System,
Pnau have made a name for themselves in the
genre. The success of
The Presets at the
ARIA Music Awards
ARIA Music Awards of 2008 and
the Potbelleez in the mainstream media was indicative of the rapidly
growing popularity of electro house, progressive house and hardstyle
Cut Copy frontman
Dan Whitford has attributed the band's success to a
change in public attitude as much as the band's quality, explaining
"It's a case partly of timing and a growing awareness of electronic
music in Australia". Pnau's first album, Sambanova, was released
in 1999, at a time when many in
Australia considered electronic music
to be a dying breed. Nonetheless, the band travelled around the US and
Europe, and slowly made a name for themselves, and for a rebirth of
electronic music in the country. Individual DJs are also
pioneering the electronic music scene globally.
Dirty South (DJ)
Dirty South (DJ) was
ranked 59 in the 2009
DJ Mag Top 100 DJ poll. In recent years
electronic festivals such as
Stereosonic have overtaken other genres
of music festivals to have the largest attendance in Australia.
Several festivals started developing over time, these festivals
include: Defqon 1, IQON, Masters of Hardcore, Utopia, Doof,
Rainbow Serpent Festival
Rainbow Serpent Festival and Stereosonic. This also includes Teknivals
which are generally held outside big cities and are not widely
Art vs. Science
Empire of the Sun
Hook N Sling
Sneaky Sound System
The Aston Shuffle
Main article: Australian hardcore
In recent years,
Australia has become known for hardcore punk bands
A Breach of Silence
Behind Crimson Eyes
Buried in Verona
Capture the Crown
Dream On, Dreamer
Eleventh He Reaches London
Hands Like Houses
House vs. Hurricane
Hand of Mercy
I Killed the Prom Queen
In Hearts Wake
Mary Jane Kelly (band)
Ocean Grove (Australian band)
The Amity Affliction
The Red Shore
Toe to Toe
Where's the Pope?
Main article: Australian heavy metal
Further to this, the Australian Metal scene has gained prominence in
the past number of years with bands such as:
Aeon of Horus
Claim the Throne
Empires of Eden
Eye of the Enemy
Feed Her to the Sharks
For All Eternity (band)
Gospel of the Horns
Heaven (Australian band)
Heaven the Axe
Hobbs' Angel of Death
Make Them Suffer
Our Last Enemy
The Eternal (band)
The Mark of Cain
The Red Shore
Thy Art Is Murder
Twelve Foot Ninja
Wish for Wings
Punk rock/pop punk
Main article: Australian punk
Australia has built a strong and ongoing cult following of punk bands
5 Seconds of Summer
Closure in Moscow
Exploding White Mice
Goons of Doom
The Celibate Rifles
The Living End
The Screaming Tribesmen
Toe to Toe
Australia has created many alternative rock bands such as:
After the Fall
The Beautiful Few
Birds of Tokyo
Boy & Bear
British India (band)
Calling All Cars
Closure in Moscow
Dead Letter Circus
Hands Like Houses
Heroes For Hire
John Butler Trio
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Not From There
Pond (Australian band)
Something For Kate
The Butterfly Effect
The Getaway Plan
The Smith Street Band
The Temper Trap
Mt Warning (band)
You Am I
Main article: Australian hip hop
The Australian hip-hop scene has begun to gain national momentum
through bands such as:
Bliss N Eso
Hyjak N Torcha
Portrait of Dame
Nellie Melba GBE by Henry Walter Barnett
Main article: Australian classical music
The earliest Western musical influences in
Australia can be traced
back to two distinct sources: in the first settlements, the large body
of convicts, soldiers and sailors who brought the traditional folk
music of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland; and the first free
settlers, some of whom had been exposed to the European classical
music tradition in their upbringing. Very little music has survived
from this early period, although there are samples of music
Sydney that date back to the early 19th
Joan Sutherland in I Puritani (1976), with Luciano
The establishment of choral societies (c. 1850) and symphony
orchestras (c. 1890) led to increased compositional activity, although
most Australian classical composers of this period worked entirely
within European models and many undertook their training in
Europe or the United Kingdom. One of the earliest known
composers was George Tolhurst, whose oratorio Ruth was the first
composed in the then colony of Victoria in 1864. Some works leading up
to the first part of the 20th century were heavily influenced by folk
music (Percy Grainger's "English Country Gardens" of 1908 being a good
example of this). An estimated 10,000 Australians and New
Zealanders traveled to Britain each year from the late 1880s to the
early 20th century, and the number doubled between the World Wars. A
majority was likely female, often a musician; in 1907 one commentator
said that Australia's principal exports to Britain were "frozen sheep
and pretty-voiced girls". Success in London was often seen as a
prerequisite for fame in
Australia for singers such as Nellie Melba,
Amy Sherwin, and Ada Crossley.
From the time of Australia's Federation in 1901, a growing sense of
national identity began to emerge in the arts, although a
patriotic attachment with the "mother country" or "Home", that
is Britain, and the Empire, continued to dominate musical taste. In
the war and post-war eras, as the Australian national identity
continued to build, composers looked to their surroundings for
John Antill in his ballet Corroboree, Peter Sculthorpe
and others began to incorporate elements of Aboriginal music, Richard
Meale drew influence from south-east Asia (notably using the harmonic
properties of the Balinese gamelan), while
Nigel Butterley combined
his penchant for International modernism with an own individual
By the beginning of the 1960s other strong influences emerged in
Australian classical music, with composers incorporating disparate
elements into their work, ranging from Aboriginal and south-east Asian
music and instruments, American jazz and blues, to the belated
discovery of European atonality and the avante-garde. Composers like
Don Banks, Don Kay,
Malcolm Williamson and
Colin Brumby epitomise this
period. Others who adhered to more traditional idioms include
Arthur Benjamin, George Dreyfus,
Peggy Glanville-Hicks and Robert
Hughes. In recent times composers including Julian Cochran, Gordon
Hamilton, Liza Lim, Nigel Westlake, David Worrall, Graeme Koehne,
Elena Kats-Chernin, Carl Vine, Brett Dean, Martin Wesley-Smith,
Georges Lentz, Richard Mills, Ross Edwards, Stephen Leek, Matthew
Constantine Koukias have embodied the pinnacle of
established Australian composers.
Well-known Australian classical performers of the past and the present
conductors Joseph Post, Sir Bernard Heinze, Sir Charles Mackerras,
Richard Bonynge, Patrick Thomas, Stuart Challender, Simone Young,
Geoffrey Simon and Richard Gill;
sopranos Dame Nellie Melba, Dame Joan Sutherland, Dame Joan Hammond,
Marie Collier, Florence Austral, Marjorie Lawrence, June Bronhill,
Joan Carden, Jessica Pratt , Yvonne Kenny, Lisa Gasteen, Sara
Macliver, Cheryl Barker,
Deborah Riedel and Emma Matthews;
mezzo-sopranos Yvonne Minton,
Lauris Elms and Margreta Elkins
tenors Browning Mummery, Donald Smith, Ronald Dowd, Glenn Winslade,
Stuart Skelton, David Hobson, and Rosario La Spina;
baritones John Brownlee, John Pringle, Robert Allman, John Shaw,
Jonathan Summers, Malcolm Donnelly,
Jeffrey Black and Peter
bass-baritones Peter Dawson and Donald Shanks;
bass Malcolm McEachern; Clifford Grant
pianists Percy Grainger, Eileen Joyce, Noel Mewton-Wood, Nancy Weir,
Geoffrey Parsons, Piers Lane, Leslie Howard, Ian Munro, Gerard
Willems, Kathryn Selby, Simon Tedeschi, Lisa Moore, Geoffrey Tozer,
Roger Woodward, Rhondda Gillespie,
Stephanie McCallum and Michael
harpsichordists and fortepianists
Geoffrey Lancaster and Paul
organist, fortepianist and harpsichordist Neal Peres Da Costa;
violinists Elizabeth Wallfisch,
Richard Tognetti and Dene Olding;
organists Robert Ampt,
Christopher Wrench and Thomas Heywood;
cellists David Pereira;
Marshall McGuire and Alice Giles;
guitarists John Williams, Slava Grigoryan, Craig Ogden and Karin
Barry Tuckwell and Lin Jiang;
oboists Diana Doherty;
bassoonist Matthew Wilkie;
flautist Jane Rutter;
clarinetist Paul Dean;
trombonist Michael Mulcahy (now based in Chicago in the United States)
Didgeridoo player William Barton;
percussionists Claire Edwardes and Nick Parnell; and
oud player Joseph Tawadros.
Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
State-based symphony orchestras, originally managed under the
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) but now operating as
separate independent bodies, have played a major role in performing
mainstream orchestral repertoire for the general public as well as
commissioning new works from Australian composers and ensuring that
works by contemporary international composers are introduced to their
audiences. These include the
Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne
Symphony Orchestra, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the Adelaide
Symphony Orchestra, the West Australian Symphony
Orchestra and the
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. There are also professional orchestras
whose role is related specifically to opera and ballet performance,
chiefly the Australian Opera and Ballet
Orchestra based at the Sydney
Opera House and
Orchestra Victoria based in Melbourne.
There are several chamber orchestras which focus on works for smaller
ensembles. These include the Australian Chamber
Orchestra which tours
Australia and has been well-received
Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, the Adelaide
Chamber Orchestra and the Camerata of St. John's. Orchestral
ensembles which concentrate on historically informed performance
include the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and the
Leading chamber ensembles include the Australian String Quartet, the
Goldner String Quartet, the
Australia Ensemble, Synergy
Percussion, Dean Emerson, TRIOZ, the Sydney
Soloists, the Southern Cross Soloists, Guitar Trek,
Collusion (chamber ensemble), the Elandra String Quartet, the
Zephyr Quartet, and the Tinalley String Quartet. Chamber
ensembles involved in historically informed performance include Marais
Project, Accademia Arcadia, La Compania, Ironwood
and probably Australia's oldest group of this kind, The Renaissance
Musica Viva Australia, now the largest entrepreneur of chamber music
in the world, was founded in 1945 and has provided a major
stimulus for public interest in chamber music by organising annual
subscription programs of concerts by leading international and
Australian ensembles. Further interest has been stimulated by
events such as the Australian Festival of Chamber Music which was
founded in 1991 and is held each year in Townsville, the Melbourne
International Chamber Music Competition and the Asia-Pacific Chamber
Music Competition, both of which are organised by Chamber Music
Australia and held every four years in Melbourne.
Several Australian composers have written chamber works. Among the
Peter Sculthorpe stands out because he has written 17
string quartets up to 2010, with performances in
overseas and recordings by leading groups such as the Kronos Quartet.
In the next generation, Brett Dean, himself a violist of note and a
composer who has received worldwide recognition, has written several
works for various ensembles including a string quartet called
"Eclipse" which was commissioned by the Cologne Philharmonie for
the Auryn Quartet, a string quintet entitled "Epitaphs" premiered
in 2010 at the Cheltenham Music Festival, the Santa Fe Chamber
Music Festival, La Jolla Music SocietyLa Jolla SummerFest
and the Cologne Philharmonie, and a sonata for violin and piano
commissioned by Midori for performance in 2010 in
the Wigmore Hall, London. Dean's near-contemporary, Julian
Yu has written over 30 works for various chamber ensembles
including conventional trios and quartets, as well as unusual
combinations such as a quintet for four percussions and piano, a
septet for flute, percussion, harp, violin, viola, cello and double
bass entitled "Pentatonicophilia", and an unconventional
reworking of Mussorgsky's
Pictures at an Exhibition
Pictures at an Exhibition for 16
Other piano and chamber works of special merit include Peggy
Glanville-Hicks' Concertino da camera for flute, clarinet, bassoon and
piano, Richard Meale's "Las Alboradas" for flute, violin, horn, and
piano, Riccardo Formosa's "Vertigo" for flute (piccolo), oboe,
clarinet and piano, Nigel Westlake's "Refractions at Summer Cloud Bay"
for flute, bass flute, clarinet, soprano saxophone, violin, cello and
piano, the piano works of Julian Cochran, Ross Edwards' "Laikan" for
flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin and cello, Carl Vine's
String Quartets Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5, his Elegy for flute, cello,
trombone, piano four-hands, organ and percussion, and "Inner World"
for amplified cello and tape.
1950 ballet performance of John Antill's Corroboree.
Music broadcasting has played an important role in providing classical
music and jazz to the Australian public. Prior to the introduction of
FM into the country, the ABC produced classical music programs which
were broadcast through their local stations. Professor Alfred Ernest
Floyd's program "Music Lover's Hour" was heard for over 25 years,
beginning first on the local
Melbourne ABC station in 1944 before
being broadcast nationally. Pianist and academic Lindley
Evans broadcast a series of programs called "Adventures in Music"
on the ABC, but was probably better known and more influential through
his appearances each Thursday under the pseudonym "Mr Music" on the
ABC's national "Argonauts Club" program. Ralph Collins, formerly a
record librarian at the ABC with an acute knowledge of music, hosted
his own national music program for over 30 years from the early 1960s,
and he was eventually nicknamed "Mr Sunday Morning" by the general
public. John Cargher, a record retailer, avid collector of records and
author of many books, presented two programs. The most popular was
"Singers of Renown", which began on the local
Melbourne ABC station in
1966 and was transferred by public demand to
Radio National at the end
of only 10 weeks and remained on air for 42 years. The other program,
"Music for Pleasure", began on
Radio National in 1967 and continued
The national FM music network ABC Classic FM was established in
1976 to broadcast classical music, jazz, operas, recitals and live
Australia and overseas, music analysis programs and news
about music activities. Its audience is now estimated as being about
one million people, not taking into account a growing number of
international users who access its programs via its online
service. At about the same time, community not-for-profit FM
stations were set up to enable volunteers to produce and present
classical music and jazz programs. These included
2MBS FM in
3MBS FM in
4MBS Classic FM in
Brisbane. More recently a similar station, 5MBS. has been established
in Adelaide. There are five important classical record labels in
Australia: ABC Classics Move Records, Tall Poppies
Records, Melba Recordings, and Master Performers.
Main article: Australian jazz
The history of jazz and related genres in
Australia extends back into
the 19th century. During the gold rush locally formed 'blackface'
(white actor-musicians in blackface) minstrel troupes began to tour
Australia, touring not only the capital cities but also many of the
booming regional towns like Ballarat and Bendigo. Minstrel orchestra
music featurics including improvisatory embellishment and polyrhythm
in the (pre-classic) banjo playing and clever percussion breaks. Some
genuine African-American minstrel and jubilee singing troupes toured
from the 1870s. A more jazz-like form of minstrelsy reached Australia
in the late 1890s in the form of improvisatory and syncopated coon
song and cake-walk music, two early forms of ragtime. The next two
decades brought ensemble, piano and vocal ragtime and leading (mostly
white) American ragtime artists, including Ben Harney, 'Emperor of
Ragtime' Gene Greene and pianist Charlie Straight. Some of these
visitors taught Australians how to 'rag' (improvise unsyncopated
popular music into ragtime-style music).
By the mid-1920s, phonograph machines, increased contact with American
popular music and visiting white American dance musicians had firmly
established jazz (meaning jazz inflected modern dance and stage music)
in Australia. The first recordings of jazz in
Mastertouch piano rolls recorded in
Sydney from around 1922 but jazz
began to be recorded on disc by 1925, first in
Melbourne and soon
thereafter in Sydney. Soon after World War II, jazz in Australia
diverged into two strands. One was based on the earlier collectively
improvised called "dixieland" or traditional jazz. The other so-called
modernist stream was based on big band swing, small band progressive
swing, boogie woogie, and after WWII, the emerging new style of bebop.
By the 1950s American bop, itself, was dividing into so-called 'cool'
and 'hard' bop schools, the latter being more polyrhythmic and
aggressive. This division reached
Australia on a small scale by the
end of the 1950s. From the mid-1950s rock and roll began to draw young
audiences and social dancers away from jazz. British-style dixieland,
called Trad, became popular in the early 1960s. Most modern players
stuck with the 'cool' (often called West Coast) style, but some
experimented with free jazz, modal jazz, experiment with 'Eastern'
influences, art music and visual art concept, electronic and jazz-rock
The 1970s brought tertiary jazz education courses and continuing
innovation and diversification in jazz which, by the late 1980s,
included world music fusion and contemporary classical and jazz
crossovers. From this time, the trend towards eclectic style fusions
has continued with ensembles like The Catholics, Australian Art
Orchestra, Tongue and Groove, austraLYSIS, Wanderlust, The Necks and
many others. It is questionable whether the label jazz is elastic
enough to continue to embrace the ever-widening range of improvisatory
musics that are associated with the term jazz in Australia. However,
mainstream modern jazz and dixieland still have the strongest
following and patron still flock to hear famous mainstream artists who
have been around for decades, such as One Night Stand players Dugald
Shaw and Blair Jordan, reeds player
Don Burrows and trumpeter James
Morrison and, sometimes, the famous pioneer of traditional jazz in
Australia, Graeme Bell.A non-academic genre of jazz has also evolved
with a harder "street edge" style. The Conglomerate, The Bamboos,
Damage, Cookin on Three Burners, John Mcalls Black Money are examples
of this. See:
Andrew Bisset. Black Roots White Flowers, Golden Press, 1978
Bruce Johnson. The Oxford Companion to Australian
Jazz OUP, 1987
John Whiteoak. Playing Ad Lib: Improvisatory Music in Australia:
1836–1970, Currency Press, 1999
Major organisations involved in providing music funding or in receipt
of music funding are:
Arts Council of NSW
Arts Council of South Australia
Australia Council for the Arts
Australian Music Centre
Australian Music Office
Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Culture and the Arts (formerly Arts WA)
Music Council of Australia
Queensland Arts Council
Regional Arts Victoria
Tasmanian Regional Arts
Western Australian Arts Council
Music: Not-for-profit organisations
Australian Festival of Chamber Music
Chamber Music Australia
Musica Viva Australia
Youth Orchestras Australia
Music: Symphony orchestra
Canberra Symphony Orchestra
The Queensland Orchestra
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
West Australian Symphony Orchestra
Music: Orchestras (pit)
Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra
Music: Orchestras (youth)
Adelaide Youth Orchestra
Australian Youth Orchestra
Canberra Youth Music
Darwin Youth Orchestra
Melbourne Youth Music
Sydney Youth Orchestra
Queensland Youth Orchestras
Sydney Youth Orchestras
Tasmanian Youth Orchestra
Western Australian Youth Music Association
Music: Chamber orchestras
Adelaide Chamber Orchestra
Australian Chamber Orchestra
Australian Brandenburg Orchestra
Camerata of St. John's
Melbourne Chamber Orchestra
Orchestra of the Antipodes
Music: Chamber ensembles
Australian String Quartet
Clarity (chamber music ensemble)
Collusion (chamber music ensemble)
Dean Emerson Dean
Goldner String Quartet
Kammer (chamber music ensemble)
Sydney Wind Quintet
Southern Cross Soloists
Sydney Omega Ensemble
The Australian Trio
Tinalley String Quartet
Zephyr String Quartet
Asia-Pacific Chamber Music Competition
Cochran International Piano Competition
Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition
Sydney International Piano Competition
Australian Children's Choir
Adelaide Chamber Singers
The Australian Boys Choir
The Australian Girls Choir
The Australian Voices
Voices of Birralee
Brisbane Chamber Choir
Canticum Chamber Choir
Exaudi Youth Choir
The National Youth
Choir of Australia
Melbourne Philharmonic Chorale
Sydney Chamber Choir
Sydney Philharmonia Choirs
Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School Chamber Voices
Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Vocal Ensemble
West Australian Youth Chorale
State Opera Company of South Australia
West Australian Opera
Australian hip hop
Culture of Australia
Australia in the
Eurovision Song Contest
Australian Music Examinations Board
List of Australian music festivals
List of Australian composers
Indigenous Australian musicians, Indigenous musicians and
Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop
Australian music charts
Melbourne (Music Section)
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^ "Renée Geyer". HowlSpace – The Living History of Our Music. Ed
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^ Hardwicke, Al.
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African & Caribbean Music Circuit Ltd. Web. 2007-06-21
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^ "reggae". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 14 Mar.
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^ "Long Way to the Top:
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^ Dan Raper (31 January 2007). "Hoodoo Gurus: Stoneage Romeos".
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^ "Summer's biggest day out rolls into Melbourne". The Age. 25 January
2003. Retrieved 10 May 2008.
^ Joanne Cummings (6 December 2005). "Australian Indie Music Festivals
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^ "Howdy swingers". The
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^ Peter Coleman-Wright ~ Baritone. Petercolemanwright.com
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^ Classical Guitar. Craig Ogden. Retrieved on 2011-04-14.
^ Matthew Wilkie (Bassoon) – Short Biography. Bach-cantatas.com
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^ Reviews. ACO. Retrieved on 2011-04-14.
^ Experience orchestral music like never before. MCO. Retrieved on
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^ Profile Archived 29 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine.. Synergy
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^ Home. Zephyrquartet.com (2011-04-07). Retrieved on 2011-04-14.
^ Tinalley String Quartet Archived 19 July 2011 at the Wayback
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^ The Marais Project. The Marais Project. Retrieved on 2011-04-14.
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Ironwood Chamber Ensemble.
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^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 June 2009.
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^ According to their 2009 Annual Report, Musica Viva Australia
organised 2,221 music events – see "Archived copy". Archived from
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^ Australian Festival of Chamber Music. Afcm.com.au. Retrieved on
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^ Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Sfcmf.org. Retrieved on 2011-04-14.
^ La Jolla Music
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^ Julian Yu : Represented Artist Profile. Australian Music
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^ Although referred to by some as a "transcription", this work is
described on the score as "a moderately modern rendition by immodest
Julian Yu." – see .
^ A comprehensive list of chamber works by Australian composers can be
found at the Australian Music Centre's website
^ Floyd, Alfred Ernest (1877–1974) Biographical Entry – Australian
Dictionary of Biography Online. Adb.online.anu.edu.au. Retrieved on
^ Evans, Harry Lindley (1895–1982) Biographical Entry – Australian
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^ Classical, jazz and contemporary music, Sydney-wide: 2MBS-FM 102.5.
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Susanna Agardy and Lawrence Zion (1997), 'The Australian Rock Music
Scene,' in Alison J. Ewbank and Fouli T. Papageorgiou (eds.), Whose
master's voice? the development of popular music in thirteen cultures,
Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, Ch. 1. ISBN 0-313-27772-9
Susanna Agardy (1985), Young Australians and Music, Australian
Broadcasting Tribunal, Melbourne. ISBN 0-642-09805-0
Warren Bebbington, (ed.) (1998). The Oxford companion to Australian
music. Oxford. ISBN 0-19-553432-8.
Marcello Sorce Keller, "The Swiss-
Germans in Melbourne. Some
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für Musikwissenschaft, Neue Folge, XXV(2005), pp. 131–154.
Marcello Sorce Keller, "La Swiss-Italian Festa a Daylesford-Hepburn
Springs in Australia. Osservazioni etnografiche e un po' di cronaca",
Cenobio, LV(2006), pp. 329–341.
Marcello Sorce Keller, "Transplanting multiculturalism: Swiss musical
traditions reconfigured in multicultural Victoria", in Joel Crotti and
Kay Dreyfus (Guest Editors), Victorian Historical Journal,
LXXVIII(2007), no. 2, pp. 187–205.
Edited by Shane Homan and Tony Mitchell (2008). Sounds of then, sounds
Popular music in Australia, ACYS Publishing.
(in French) Audio clip: traditional Australian music. Musée
d'ethnographie de Genève. Accessed 25 November 2010.
National Film and Sound Archive homepage
Australia – an initiative of the National Library of Australia
and National Film & Sound
Australian Music Centre
Milesago: Australasian music and popular culture 1964–75
Australian top 40 singles and album charts 1966 – 1974
Australian Psytrance Festivals
Music of Australia
ARIA Music Awards
Australian Music Prize
CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia
Gold Coast Music Awards
National Indigenous Music Awards
Perth Dance Music Awards
Australian pop music awards
Kent Music Report
The Rock Across Australia
Triple J Hottest 100
Bluesfest Byron Bay
Groovin' the Moo
Mildura Country Music Festival
National Folk Festival
Splendour in the Grass
Stereosonic (2016 hiatus)
Tamworth Country Music Festival
Big Day Out
Big Day Out (1992-1997; 1999-2014)
Break the Ice (2012-2014)
Future Music Festival
Future Music Festival (2006-2015)
Homebake (1996; 1998-2012)
Raggamuffin Music Festival
Raggamuffin Music Festival (2008-2011)
Channel V Australia
Rolling Stone Australia
triple j tv
Cities and regions
See also: Timeline
Music of Oceania
Federated States of Micronesia
Papua New Guinea
of New Zealand
and other territories
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Northern Mariana Islands
Wallis and Futuna
States and Territories
Intelligence and security
Gross state product