Sunday, 24 February 2013

Citations of the term "Bush Music"

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 

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!