The songs and threatened languages of one of Australia's most prominent genres of Indigenous music have been saved from extinction.
Danny Teece-Johnson

20 Feb 2014 - 4:45 PM  UPDATED 20 Feb 2014 - 5:54 PM

Songmen from the Daly region of the Northern Territory, who created and performed songs for their communities and the general public over the past fifty years, are the subject of a new Sydney University Press publication.

‘For the Sake of a Song: Wangga Songmen and their Repertories’ is a multimedia project preserving the languages of Wangga across different platforms

As the internet streams global culture into remote communities, the loss of language and ceremony is a constant battle for traditional owners.

But co-authors and researchers Allan Marett and Linda Barwick say recording songs for online academia is one way of preserving our past and educating our future generations.

"You'll often find that songs will substitute a new version of a song or a new song will be a similar frame work to a previous song but substituting some words, so that's one of the reasons; a great way of building a platform for people to keep composing in language," said Ms Barwick.

"One of the things I'm particularly  happy about with this book is it has a website that's streaming, and anybody in the community who sing  Wangga can listen to it on their iPhones or they can go into the library and listen to it on the computer," said Mr Marett.

The pair has spent over three decades in the Daly region, reviving critically endangered languages.

But it's not only language that is being saved through this project.

"In the end its this wellbeing and health issue that is the really vital one, we want to keep these ceremonies and songs to support them as much as they can because people tell us that is what we need, that is what we want, because that is what will actually sustain people into the future," said Mr Marett.

‘For the Sake of a Song: Wangga Songmen and their Repertories’ will be launched at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music tomorrow night.