Songlines and Walkabouts
Walkabout refers to a rite of passage during which an Australian Aborigine would undergo a journey during adolescence and live in the wilderness for a period as long as six months. In practice they would trace the paths or ‘songlines’ that their ancestors took, and imitate, in a fashion, their heroic deeds.
Songlines: A knowledgeable person is able to navigate across the land by repeating the words of the song, which describe the location of landmarks, waterholes, and other natural phenomena. Languages are not a barrier, although ‘songlines’ can span the lands of several different language groups, because the melodic contour of the song describes the nature of the land over which the song passes. The rhythm is what is crucial to understanding the song. Listening to the song of the land is the same as walking on this ‘songline’ and observing the land. It is said that they exist in the Irish music tradition also. Come on the 4pm tour, listen to the music and get an insight into this very old tradition.