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Sounds of Australia – Iconic or just Nostalgic?

The National Film and Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia is a public registry of recordings that celebrates the unique and diverse recorded sound culture and history of Australia. On Tuesday, a lecture on the launch of digital radio in Australia was followed by minister Peter Garrett’s announcement of the NFSA’s 2009 additions to the registry and that fabulous living icon of Australian sound, Robyn Archer, accompanied by Michael Morley, presented Radio and Me – a programme of songs, poems and personal anecdotes, especially created, with the research assistance of Robyn Holmes from the National Library, for the occasion. Sounds of Australia was first launched in 2007 with a foundation list of 10 recordings. Each year, public nominations are called for and 10 new recordings are added to the Registry, selected from the nominations by a panel of experts from the recorded sound industry and cultural institutions. You can find out more about the registry here.

The announcement seems to have been well reported by the mass media, including Aunty ABC. The 2009 list is

1924 – London recordings – Newcastle Steelworks Band, conductor Albert Baile
1954 – The Vegemite Jingle
1955 – The Adventure of the Singing Bullet – Smoky Dawson
1958 – My Country – read by Dorothea Mackellar
1962 – Georgia Lee Sings the Blues Down Under – Georgia Lee
1966 - In the Head the Fire – Nigel Butterley
1968 – Lionel Rose Wins the World Title
1972 – I Am Woman – Helen Reddy
1973 – The Loner – Vic Simms
1991 – Treaty – Yothu Yindi

All well and good, you might think. Except not all entries have been reported equally. Even at the launch, Minister Garrett was prepared to reflect on his contribution to the Yothu Yindi, and mentioned, if my memory serves me correctly, all other entries except one. Anyone care to guess which one? It’s the same one that all the other media I’ve seen have also ignored? Come on now, it’s not all that hard, given the lobotomised media producers in this country seem incapable of recognising more than one Australian composer of art music between sleeps.

And I wonder how long it will be before a computer-generated piece makes the list. I’m not holding my breath.

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