The National Recording Project for
Indigenous Performance in Australia

Bruce Nabegeyo, Barndanj Nabegeyo, Dr Murray Garde, Stephen Kanerradj and Prof. Linda Barwick test digital recording technologies under remote field conditions at Kunbarllanjnja in W Arnhem Land. Photo: A. Marett, 2005.

The NRP aims to establish a national
framework for recording Australia’s
Indigenous performance traditions and sustaining community access to these records.

It is also committed, in partnership with Charles Darwin University, to tailoring training for Indigenous communities in Australia to meet their recording, documenting and archiving needs.

Full discussion of these protocols was published in the proceedings of the National Education and the Arts Symposium, 2005 (Sydney: Australia Council for the Arts, 2006), pp. 84–90, and is available here.

Fieldwork Protocols | Archiving Protocols

Fieldwork Protocols

The following protocols have been formulated in consultation with Indigenous stakeholders for research teams registered with the NRP.

  1. Registered research teams will follow NRP guidelines in:

    (a) planning their logistical needs,

    (b) paying Indigenous performers, and

    (c) informing them of the NRP data management and
    access framework.

  2. Core metadata collected in the field will include information on:

    (a) where recordings are made,

    (b) when they are made,

    (c) who performs for them,

    (d) who records them, and

    (e) who has rights to decide future access and management provisions.

  3. Materials are to be recorded in accordance with international archival standards for any format including digital audio, video, photographs, text and GPS readings.

  4. Preliminary documentation for each performance recorded will identify its:

    (a) genre,

    (b) repertory,

    (c) subjects,

    (d) relationships to country and

    (e) core musical practices.

  5. Rights information collected about all songs and dances recorded will include:

    (a) who holds rights to perform them,

    (b) who holds rights to speak for them,

    (c) who owns them and

    (d) how rights in them are transmitted.

  6. Access and suitable use information collected about all materials recorded will include:

    (a) what is restricted and to whom,

    (b) what is suitable for community access through local archives,

    (c) what is suitable for general public discovery or access via webcast,

    (d) what might be suitable for commercial release, and

    (e) what might be suitable for use in parallel community programs (for example, health and education).

  7. Preliminary indexation and data management including a complete file listing, backing-up and file copying for immediate access by performers will take place during fieldwork.

  8. Access copies of recordings should be distributed to performers and left locally in suitable secure location before a research team leaves the field.

Archiving Protocols

Discussions between the Northern Territory Library, Charles Darwin University, AIATSIS and the National Library of Australia in the NRP’s pilot year generated the following data management strategy which is currently being tested and refined.

  1. Recordings and metadata will be

    (a) sent to Darwin on hard drives,

    (b) uploaded to a shared respository and

    (c) transferred to a safe archive in Canberra via AARnet.

  2. The Canberra archive will ingest and map metadata for discovery (or not) and/or access (or not) according to the data's status as determined at the time of recording

  3. Data previously identified by communities as suitable for discovery and access will be transferred from Canberra to the Northern Territory Library server via AARnet

  4. The Northern Territory Library will structure the data identified as suitable for community access
    to be delivered via Our Story or similar software interfaces.

  5. The Northern Territory Library will transfer relevant data to local community archives and, where appropriate, satellite computers in remote outstations.

  6. Data identified as suitable for public discovery through the National Library of Australia’s Music Australia web portal will be moved to the Northern Territory Library public web server.

  7. Material identified as suitable for release through the Indigenous Music of Australia series will be documented in greater detail to capture song lyrics and their translations, associated stories, and performers’ biographies.

As well as providing for the sustainability of recordings, this data management model exploits digital and networking technologies to also allow for their maximum re-usability in, for example, research projects, health initiatives, school curricula and, where agreed, commercial publications.