Marie-Louise Ayres:    Good evening, everybody and welcome to the National Library of Australia. I'm Marie-Louise Ayres and it's my privilege to be the Director General of this institution. I'd like to begin by acknowledging Australia's First Nations peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land and give my respect to elders past and present and through them to all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Thank you for attending this event, which is coming to you from Ngunnawal and Ngambri country. 

And of course, given that tonight we're talking about community singing. It's lovely to reflect that people have been singing on this land for many thousands of years. I would also like to extend a very warm welcome to Her Excellency, Mrs. Linda Hurley, who is attending tonight. This evening's presentation, Community Singing in Interwar Australia is by Dr. Georgia Pike-Rowney, a 2020 National Library of Australia fellow, and we know 2020 sounds a long time ago, but a few things have happened since then. 

Our distinguished Fellowships programme supports researchers to make intensive use of the library's vast, rich, and incredibly varied collections through residencies of three months. Our fellowships are made possible by generous philanthropic support, and Georgia's Fellowship was supported in memory of Averill Edwards, who was for many, many years a Petherick librarian and in fact a real powerhouse in the world of Australian libraries, and I was privileged to know her very well. 

Georgia is a transdisciplinary researcher and practitioner whose work encompasses music, community outreach, classical studies, health and wellbeing and history. She splits her time as a friends lecturer and curator of the Classics Museum at the ANU and is co-director of the music engagement programme. Now in her presentation this evening, Georgia will be presenting her research into Community Singing in Interwar Australia. In the period from 1918 to 1939 the community contended with the aftermath of World War I and the Spanish Flu Pandemic, the Great Depression and the global instability leading to World War II. 

Community singing was a simple but effective way to bring people together, often with the explicit aim of helping people to cope and carry on, and that seems like it's a very good time for us to be doing more of it right now, doesn't it? Today we'll learn about this underappreciated and very lively aspect of our Australian musical heritage brought to life by the library's extensive music and ephemera collections with piano accompaniment by Dr. Susan West, so welcome Susan as well. Please do join me in welcoming Dr. Georgia Pike-Rowney to the stage. Thank you 

Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney:    Thank you very much, Marie-Louise. And I would also like to thank Mrs. Hurley for being here. She's a great proponent of community singing, as many of you probably know and some of you may have sung in her presence as well. I'm hoping that the audience can actually see their little lyric booklets because I know the lights have just come down, so it might be a bit – Oh, thank you, magic. Lovely. Thank you so much. Now this is a participatory lecture, so I think we better start with a song. And we're going to start with this song. This song is since Mars Gone Mad on Community singing, which was written by an Australian composer, Jack Lumsdaine in 1930, so right in the middle of this Community Singing Interwar period, and it's a really fantastic little microcosm of this entire movement because it's poking fun at community singing. 

So, we learn a lot about community singing because of this song. So, we better start with this song. Now, I've given you the choruses, you in your hands, and I know some of you who are watching online don't have this, I'm sorry, but the people in the audience, you have a little lyric booklet. This is exactly what you would've gotten a hundred years ago if you had attended a community singing event, a little lyric booklet. You wouldn't have gotten the sheet music, just the lyrics and you join in with choruses or whatever else you could. You've probably not heard this song before. I'm hoping by the second chorus you'll at least be able to join in with the final line, which is Since Ma’s gone mad on community singing, home isn't home anymore. So here we go. 

Singing:    What’s the latest craze, that is all the rage,
No matter where you go.
Every night at eight, ma says shut the gate,
I’m off to see the show.
But it’s not the pictures that she talks about,
But a place where she can sing and shout.

Since ma’s gone mad on community singing,
Home isn’t home anymore!
All day long you can hear the place ringing,
With old fashioned songs by the score.
For breakfast it’s ‘John Brown’s Body,’
For dinner it’s ‘Comin’ thru the Rye.’
And all the kiddies on the floor begin to howl and wail,
Every time she starts to sing ‘The Long Long Trail.’
Since Ma’s gone mad on community singing,
Home isn’t home anymore!

Never stops to think, dishes in the sink,
Each night she goes along.
Comes home very late, family have to wait,
And hear the latest song.
Then she says come let’s chase the gloom away,
But if you look at father’s face you’ll say,

Since Ma’s gone mad on community singing,
Home isn’t home anymore!
It’s a shame that she makes it so willing,
No wonder poor Papa is sore.
For just as he’s off to bye-bye
She’ll snore and she’ll whisper ‘Good Old Jeff’.
I wonder what she’d say if Pa got on the beer and wine,
Came home late and sang to her ‘Sweet Adeline’?
Since Ma’s gone mad on community singing,
Home isn’t home anymore!

Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney:    I think some of you can probably empathise with Ma in this situation. Now, the reason this is a fantastic document, this was the first thing that I stumbled upon when I was first putting together this research project for the fellowship and this beautiful song is fantastic because as I said, it's a little microcosm of community singing, but also the front cover, there's a gentleman with his arms outstretched and this is Charlie Lawrence, well known community leader it says down here. 

So, this song is being specially featured at community singing events and this gentleman signs his name with 1, 2, 3, go. So, this is a specialist in community singing leadership. This is how popular it was, and it's being used to sell sheet music, so it's popular enough to do that. So, things that came up in this song, including the repertoire that they mentioned, John Brown's body, etcetera, this is all going to be teased out during this presentation. 

So, the aim of my research fellowship was through the fantastic collections of the national library, explore the social musical pedagogical and economic and political aspects of community singing in Australia in this Interwar period, identify repertoire that may be of use in current contexts and by current context, I mean the context that Susan West and I work in the music engagement programme with schools, communities, care facilities, etcetera. But additionally, I wanted to identify songs and practises and material that I could reintroduce to communities, particularly in the regions. 

I'm a regional gal myself, I live in Queanbeyan proudly, and we've started to do this in fact, and I'll talk a bit about that later. So, the research approach was that I started with known items that are easy to find and then slowly grew this collection. I really wanted to focus on primary sources, particularly the things people were really using at the time, participants at the time, facilitators at the time. 

And my relevance criteria was really just that, if I could show that it was somehow linked with community singing practise during this period, then I included it in the study. I viewed 385 items from the National Library collections, and I included 190 of those in the study. And I undertook a cataloguing process, which was great fun, got into my spreadsheet and each of those 190 items got a unique identifier that I gave it so that I could cross reference particularly the way repertoire was being used in what context, how often, etcetera. 

And then I undertook some analysis and synthesis of all this information. I wanted to share with you the key findings first up and then tease these out as we go. So firstly, community singing was a discreet defined practise with its own repertoire, facilitation processes, participants and proponents. If you said community singing a hundred years ago, everyone knew what you meant and it was different from choirs, sing alongs or participatory performances because the group of people gathered together to sing. 

That was the main event. It wasn't a performance, it wasn't a rehearsal, it's not an education. It is purely the gathering together of people to sing. That is the valid main event, and it was all about having a satisfying musical experience like that as a group. There was no rehearsal for it. You just gathered together and sing. Australia's movement had its own style repertoire and intentions, but this was a movement that was happening in other parts of the world, and I'll talk a little bit about that as we go. 

From those 190 items, 2,653 songs I identified as being used in community singing context during this time. That's a lot of songs, but people knew a lot of songs and sang a lot of songs. I was also able to identify because of this cross cross-referencing a sort of top hundred, the songs, the Hot 40, the songs that people were constantly using during this period. And in the end, the repertoire people were using for a particular document helped me to understand whether it was a community singing thing or not. 

So, it became its own kind of identifier really. Community singing existed for its own sake. You could go to community singing or a community sing or even just community because it was implied that if you went to community that was also singing, which I love. But also, it was embedded in every political movement, organisation, school, university, everyone had their own songbook, whatever the organisation might have been. There are very strong echoes with our own experiences recently and with the experiences of people a hundred years ago in Australia. 

Really lovely echoes in fact, but they're just using slightly different language. So instead of talking about wellbeing, they're talking about fellowship and about community. So, it's really lovely, those sort of subtle changes and they were really in need of recovery from the sort of global trauma they had been through just like we do as well. Although we're still going through it let's face it. The repertoire analysis really points to the importance of comfort and nostalgia and home, which I'll show you as we go, but this kind of sense as well that the wellbeing is through the communal engagement. It's not individual activity that that wellbeing will develop. It's through communal engagement, singing with others. That's the important bit. 

Also, I've often found this, but I also found this when I was researching this particular period in terms of community singing that modern research often tends to think that – well, some people as well, practitioners, seem to think the community singing is a recent occurrence. This is not the case. We have such a fantastic heritage of community singing in Australia during this period. But of course, as Marie-Louise mentioned, this has been going on for thousands of years as long as human beings have gathered together as a group, I'm sure there was singing. But this particular period, there's so much rich documents you can find in the National Library collections about it. 

So, the collection material I focused on was particularly the ephemera and music collections. Ephemera really included things like the sheets that you are holding today, things that are so easily lost, but thank goodness the National Library have them. Little song sheets, individual pages, little booklets, things that don't have sheet music on them were to be found in the ephemera collection. 

And then I looked at sheet music almost to back up what I was finding in those ephemera collections. Lyric sheets and lyric booklets are often called songsters. Some of you might remember that, and I see nods that's great. Sheet musicals, song collections and reflexive or for-purpose composition. So, by reflexive songs, I mean songs about singing, songs about community singing. We can learn a lot about those, and they were written during the time. We also find a lot of interesting radio broadcast listings, advertising materials, newspaper articles. 

And I started delving into the oral histories right at the end of my fellowship, which was wonderful, and I'd love to do more work in that space. In the National Library collections, there's great oral histories particularly about folk music, but it started tapping into this community singing repertoire as well. In terms of the beginnings of this fellowship – sorry, community singing movement, this fellowship song book is very interesting. 

It's an English text but was being used and referred to in Australia for fellowship songs. And in the title of this book, it's a very long title, talks about how it's for indoor or open air singing for general use of clubs, social unions and public schools. So, any situation where groups of people are getting together, they can be unified with some song. But it also talks about use of public meetings, social gathering generally. Also, the home circle. So, in fact in England there was this push to bring back, it says great heritage of song they were trying to bring back, particularly folk song of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, back into the popular domain, get people singing these again. And the idea that this could knit us together in bonds of fellowship. 

The Australian movement was not just folk song but had a lot of folk singing in it because of this tendency coming from England and the Adelaide municipal community singing song sheet by the people for the people. Love that. Also, it says all inquiries and communication should be addressed to the honourable secretary for community singing. I would love that job, it's fantastic. But this little songster refers to fellowship songs and gives the reference to the fellowship song book. So clearly that fellowship song book was a useful reference text for people running community singing in Australia. So, I thought we should sing one of these Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, hugely popular during this time. I've given you the first verse and chorus, and I'll sing the other verses for you. 

Singing:    By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond,
Where me and my true love were ever wont to gae,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.
O ye'll tak' the high road, and I'll tak' the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland a'fore ye,
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

'Twas there that we parted, in yon shady glen,
On the steep, steep side o' Ben Lomond,
Where in soft purple hue, the highland hills we view,
And the moon coming out in the gloaming.
O ye'll tak' the high road, and I'll tak' the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland a'fore ye,
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.The wee birdies sing and the wildflowers spring,

And in sunshine the waters are sleeping.
But the broken heart it kens nae second spring again,
Though the waeful may cease frae their grieving.
O ye'll tak' the high road, and I'll tak' the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland a'fore ye,
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney:    Give yourselves a round of applause. So, I wanted to talk to you a little about the repertoire analysis, which was actually very interesting. Firstly, from those 190 relevant documents, as I said, over 2,600 songs that I could identify. The songs were found in various forms. So, you got your original song either in its lyrics or its sheet music as it was originally written or collected in the case of a lot of folk songs. Sometimes you got the titles referenced in songs about community singing, like Since Ma and it mentions John Brown's body for example. 

I actually included that in my cross-referencing because it showed how popular some of these songs were. But then you also found songs, particularly song books relating to political movements or schools, unions, things like that where they took a common community song and adapted the lyrics. So, a really good example is Long Way to Tipperary. So, I thought we should sing the first verse and chorus of Long Way to Tipperary. In fact, I think we're doing two verses, aren't we, Susan? Yes, yes. Thank you, Susan. And we're doing two verses of Tipperary. You can join in the chorus and then I'm going to sing for you the different adapted lyrics, which are really fascinating. 

Singing:    Up to mighty London came an Irishman one day,
Sure the streets were paved with gold and everyone was gay,
Singing songs of Piccadilly, Strand and Leicester Square,
‘Til Paddy got excited and he shouted to them there

It's a long way to Tipperary, it's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary, to the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye, Piccadilly, farewell, Leicester Square!
It's a long, long way to Tipperary, but my heart's right there.

Paddy wrote a letter to his Irish Molly-O,
Saying, "if you don’t receive it, write and let me know!"
"If there be mistakes with spelling, Molly, dear," said he,
"Remember, it's the pen that's bad, don't lay the blame on me!"

It's a long way to Tipperary, it's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary, to the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye, Piccadilly, farewell, Leicester Square!
It's a long, long way to Tipperary, but my heart's right there.

Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney:    So, this song, which I know is sometimes seen as being overused and indeed even a little bit patronising when it's used in sort of ye oldy situations, there's a reason why it's still known because it was just everywhere. And here's a great example. So, we've got, it's a Long Way to Tipperary. We then have a Latin version, ‘Longa via ad Tipperariam, valda longa via’, etcetera. And this is in the Sydney University company song book that was being sung by Sydney University students who were part of the First World War. You have, ‘it's a long road – it's a Long Road to Emancipation’, which is the international workers of the world demonstration against a legal association act amendment. We have ‘It's a good time to get Acquainted’, which was in a sort of let’s all sing, which was kind of lots of camping songs and hiking things. We've got ‘Twas a Long Way to Prohibition’ by the Queensland Prohibition League. 

So, it's being used by people constantly and adapted. The top 50. I'm starting with the top 10. What you might notice is that it is all folk song or songs written in the 1800s. This doesn't change when you look at the rest of it. It is all folk song – oh sorry, the formatting has changed a little. It's all folk song and songs written in the 1800s. A lot of Scottish songs, Irish, English, a lot of – an awful lot of Stephen Foster, hugely popular during this period. Christy Minstrel songs is what they were often referred to. There are two Australian songs in here, interestingly enough, only two. Which are Waltzing Matilda and a song called Song of Australia, which if you don't want to ask questions, we can always sing at the end unless you have questions, which is fine. But that's interesting I think, and I could spend a lot of time on this page, but I'll keep going. 

If you do a very simple word cloud with all 2,600 songs, this is what comes up. I think this speaks to the importance, its little, old, home, sweet, love, sing, song. It's things that will make people feel comforted. A lot of it is about home. And if you think about the population of Australia at the time, a lot of people would've been reasonably recent migrants. So, singing about their little home in Scotland, in Ireland, in Italy, we get some Italian songs as well. So, there's a tendency for the music to be very much about home, a lot of lullabies, things like that. So, if we speak about the genres, as I said, folk song, lots of Stephen Foster, some parlour songs come through, sea shantys, hymns, spirituals, Christmas carols, very popular, particularly Jingle Bells that was up in the top 50. Anthems, national songs, things that made people feel sort of connected and roused. 

American popular song there was a little bit of, but weirdly American popular song wasn't very popular in community singing. Cannons and rounds. People love to do a cannon. Children's songs and lullabies, partly because a lot of people would've known them and they're very singable. Lullabies were very popular. Opera and operetta, particularly some of the student song books, university student song books were picking up on some Gilbert and Sullivan. Songs of World War I. Not as many as I would've imagined, but there were some there. Songs with names, very popular, lots of Mary's and Kathleen's and Johnny's. 

Where the Australian repertoire comes in is with songs about small Australian towns. This became hugely popular, and it started with Yarrawonga because McBeath was in the war and wrote the song, brought it back and got it published in 1919. And after that there was just this spate of songs. There's a song of Queanbeyan, there's a song of Braidwood, it's all over. And so, we're going to do a little medley now with Yarrawonga, Wodonga, which is actually now my favourite and Gundagai being the famous one that most people know. 

Singing:    I'm going back again to Yarrawonga, 
In Yarrawonga I'll linger longer
I'm goin' back again to Yarrawonga
Where the skies are always blue
And when I'm back again in Yarrawonga
I'll soon be stronger than Old Mahonga
You can have all your Tennessee and Caroline
I'm gonna get some lovin' from that mammy of mine
I'm goin' back again to Yarrawonga, and the land of the kangaroo!

I’m goin’ to wander to a place way down yonder
Called Wodonga, hometown of mine
Though there are no palm trees swaying
No ukulele’s playing, but to me it is divine
Nowhere could be greater, south of the equator
Though I’ve heard that Croajingalong is fine
You can keep your Yarrawonga
If you let me linger longer in Wodonga, hometown of mine.

There's a track winding back to an old-fashioned shack
Along the road to Gundagai,
Where the blue gums are growing, the Murrumbidgee's flowing,
Beneath a sunny sky,
Where my mother and father are waiting for me,
And the pals of my childhood once more I shall see,
Oh no more will I roam when I'm heading straight for home,
Along the road to Gundagai.

Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney:    So, can you see the theme here? Tipperary, Loch Lomond, Yarrawonga, Wodonga, Gundagai. It's all about going home and this sense of nostalgia and of easier times, which makes complete sense for the time we're talking about. Again, in terms of the Australian songs, there's a lot of reflexive songs written during this period, so I'm going to talk about them a bit. Here's some titles of the reflexive songs I found in the National Library collections. It's all about at our community, back again to happy go lucky days. Sing, sing something happy. Singing a song for the old folks. Let the people sing. So, these are really fantastic little documents that tell us about the community singing movement. 

So, we're going to sing one, which is this one. Let's all sing a song together, which was an Australian composition by Reg Courtly and Eileen Barlow. It's quite interesting, there's quite a lot of women involved in composing songs about community singing. Quite a few women wrote some of the small-town songs. Queanbeyan and Braidwood were both written by women as well. And it's a really interesting little microcosm again of this movement. So, we're going to have a go. We're going to sing the chorus twice through. You've got the chorus and I'm going to sing the verses. 

[Omitted for Copyright Reasons 0:29:52.3]

Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney:    It's cute, isn't it? I think we've uncovered a great one, there. So, it's all about singing together in the community. It's the community bit that's important. We learn about the intention to drive your blues away. To see – oh, sorry, oops, I want to go backwards. Here we oh, no, no, no. Backwards the other way. Nope, there we are. Yes. So, the intention to drive your blues away, let's all sing a song together just to show them we can sing as well. This idea that everybody can just get together and sing. It's not about being good or bad, it's completely beside the point. Getting together to sing. We learn about the facilitation. You take the high note and I take the low. So, some part singing might have been going on. 1, 2, 3 and off again we go, just like the first page of Since Ma we've got counting in happening. The Repertoire Tipperary was the song they sang in Days Gone By, but also You Take the High Note and I Take the Low is referring to Loch Lomond. 

So, you get a lot of these little references to community songs. The participants, a song that everyone can sing and let's all sing a song together. It's meant to be for everybody no matter their age or their background. So, these songs, even if you have no musical training, should be reasonably easy to pick up just like you did then. So, I want to talk again a little bit about these songs composed for community singing. So, this one. Song of Fellowship was a special prize song for the Adelaide municipal community singing competition. We have It's Best to Smile specially composed for the Christchurch Community Sing 1936. We got a lot of communication between Australia and New Zealand during this period and a lot of shared resources and kind of songs and ideas by William and Maisie McNair. I'm going for a Maisie McNair today with my hair do. 

And then of course this one's a slight anomaly because it's making fun of community singing as well, which is why I love it so much. But clearly it was also featured in community singing. So, the fellowship and wellbeing is explicit. This is what it's for. They're using solidarity and comfort and fellowship instead of wellbeing, but it's the same thing. It's for the same purpose. And it's use in union move movements, political groups, etcetera really speaks to that unifying power of singing. It brings everybody together. And a lot of the introductions in commentary and advice for leaders is really helpful because it tells us more about this purpose. Like this one creating in the singers an eager heart and a happy lively mind. Singing is a form of amusement and delight. You are all as one man on common ground when singing. This idea that it's also democratising to some extent. 

I think this is why in terms of the political divide, you see a lot more left-wing pieces related to community singing movements. But there is a very interesting right-wing example which I'll be showing you. This is a great example of a songster from a community. So, this is the Ballarat Singing Society Songbook, and these are all pages from the one songster. And you can see all of the members of the Singing Society – the Community singing society, which is fantastic. And here it says, “Home of community singing Ballarat every Friday for old and young. Everybody welcome.” So, it was intergenerational. Thank you very much. It's very nice to have some young people here. 

You also have ads for the accompanist for community singing. So, the accompanist is a specialised accompanist for community singing. Just as the leader is a specialised community singing leader. There was enough of this going on, you could specialise, which I think is marvellous. And the ads, delightful sweets improve your singing, isn't that great? And also, music for all these songs obtainable at Suttons on Sturt Street. So, it's also clearly useful for making money off. So, this is how popular it is, but also you can see it would've supported the entire community including the small businesses, which is fantastic, I think. You also had commercial sheet music sets, but you also had little commercial songsters. This one's one of my favourites. IPANA songster for little folk. IPANA toothpaste. It's a toothpaste company putting this out. Then you have the radio songsters and I really want to talk a bit about the radio because it's fascinating. 

Radio was incredibly important to this movement. You've got community song books you could buy and then sing along at home with your little songster. They'd yell out the number 12, number 39 on your songster. You'd get it out and you'd have a sing at home because they would broadcast community singing events all the time. And the amount that they broadcast them astounded me. The ABC put out these great community music books, which also came with the sheet music version and then the songster version. So, if you were the facilitator, you'd have the sheet music and then you'd buy lots of songsters for your community, which is marvellous. The radio magazines were fantastic because I could learn a little bit about the people involved, because these are not necessarily famous people or performers. They're doing this sort of everyday community engagement. So, it's a slightly different thing. 

I think they were famous then, but we've kind of forgotten about them now. Here's our friend Charlie Lawrence from the front of Since Ma. But here's Charlie Vaude. Charlie seemed to be very important. Charlie Vaude from 3DB. He wrote a lot of songs about community singing and this is one of them from the 3DB song book. ‘Each girl in Chappy sing and be happy bid all your cares adieu. Each melody sing merrily, dull care will meet its Waterloo. Remember Sunday next day is Monday. That day's Community’. Not community singing, just community, which I love. ‘Tell everyone to join in the fun that we have at 3DB’. Isn't that gorgeous? There was a woman involved in facilitating community singing, which I was so happy to find. She was a New Zealander who visited. I'm sure there would've been more women involved. But in terms of actually being publicised, this is the only one I found. And her name, she was referred to as Jill, but she conducted children's sessions, community singing and an afternoon women's session as well. 

And I'd like to explore more this connection with New Zealand because there seemed to be a lot of that at the time. This radio magazine, I looked at one week of it and in one week in New South Wales alone, there were 16 community singing broadcasts. One week in an October of 1938. So, when Ma is going out every night at eight, you can see why, that is actually possible. Doesn't that boggle your mind? This is how hugely – and this is just the broadcast ones, let alone the other stuff that's going on in regional areas. It's amazing. So, it was a huge movement. Schools and colleges and universities had their own song books. These are really fantastic. Often particular departments of universities have their own song books, the Arts Association Songbook, and they're often put together by students. So, Sydney University particularly have fantastic ones. So, they've got great illustrations, and this is where a lot of Gilbert and Sullivan comes in actually. 

Each discipline has their own songs. I love that. I think we need to bring that back. And the Australasian student book, which is Kiwi and Australian student song books from all over and community songs. The political and social movements really interested me. Now some people have actually already looked at some of this material, but not in the context of community singing as a whole, which is why I find it interesting. So, this one in particular, the Socialist Labour Party book of socialist songs seemed to be a bit of a compendium of imagery as well as poems and songs that still used the same repertoire as community singing. So, it had fantastic images like this, which I love. The militant from 1913, and this was published in 1927. But it used John Brown's body, hugely popular. It was one of our top 10 in fact. John Brown's body was used as the tune for text written by William Morris. Anyone know of William Morris? Usually, we know him for patterns not dissimilar to this, which we love. But he was also quite the socialist and he wrote a fantastic version of John – to the tune of John Brown's body. So, you are going to sing John Brown's Body with me and then I'm going to sing you the William Morris version. 

Singing:    John Brown's body lies a-moldering in the grave,
John Brown's body lies a-moldering in the grave,
John Brown's body lies a-moldering in the grave,
But his soul goes marching on. 
Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,
Glory, Glory, Hallelujah, 
Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,
His soul goes marching on.

Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney:    So, here’s William Morris’ version, which I know you don’t have in your song sheets, I think it’s great, here we go.

Singing:    What is this the sound and rumour, what is this that all men hear?
Like the wind in hollow valleys when the storm is drawing near.
Like the rolling on of ocean in the eventide of fear.
‘Tis the people marching on.
Hark! The rolling of the thunder,
Lo the sun! and lo thereunder,
Riseth wrath, and hope and wonder,
And the host goes marching on. 

Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney:    It's very rousing, isn't it? It's great. I love it. So now we had the other side of the political divide. This is one of my favourites that I found. One Step to Prosperity, the latest community song hit. And this was put together by the Sane Democracy League. Now the Sane Democracy League was an organisation related to this gentleman, Sir Bertram Stevens. He's got amazing hair, and Sir Bertram Stevens was very much against this gentleman, Jack Lang. He's quite famous and so he's being talked about as a dangerous communist in this song. Very dangerous and needs to be gotten rid of. So, get rid of Langism for all time. Steven’s sanity and security. We're not going to sing it because we don't have time, but it's a fascinating one and you can see that he's also trying to respond to the sort of workers as well and tap into the popularity of community singing amongst workers. 

The other great one in terms of social movements is this, this is the – it's actually a tiny thing. The Queensland Prohibition League songbook, it's like this big, it's a tiny little thing. And they use again all the same kinds of songs but songs all about prohibition. And they actually tell you how to vote because this was a particular vote in Queensland for prohibition. So, two cross three, this is the boxes you needed to tick. So, there's a song called Poor Old Joe, originally published Old Black Joe. And then Paul Robeson recorded it as Poor Old Joe because of course he was very involved in the civil rights movement. So Poor Old Joe is much more appropriate or sometimes referred to as Gone are the Days, which is its first line. It was written in 1860 by Stephen Foster. So, we are going to sing it, you've got the lyrics for that one and then I'm going to sing you the Queensland Prohibition Leagues version. It's a really beautiful song actually. 

Singing:    Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay, 
Gone are my friends from the cotton fields away, 
Gone from the earth to a better land I know, 
I hear their gentle voices calling "Poor old Joe". 
I’m coming, I’m coming, for my head is bending low. 
I hear their gentle voices calling "Poor old Joe".

Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney:    Now here’s the Queensland Prohibition League version, vote drink out. 

Singing:    These are the days when the drink holds fearful sway,
These are the times when it can be sold all day,
Now all the land for we’re better far without,
We hear most urgent voices calling vote drink out.
We’re voting, we’re voting, the middle square no doubt,
We hear most urgent voices calling vote drink out.

Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney:    Well done. It's a fantastic one, isn't it? So, we can also learn a little bit about processes of facilitation, which is something that interests me as a facilitator. And there are a couple of different attitudes you find. Firstly, you get a nice positive attitude, which is all about in a sense, specialising in community facilitation in a different way to how you might lead, say a choir or a music education class. So, it's about having an abundance of enthusiasm. You must not criticise the group for the way they sing. You could in fact even compliment their singing, heaven forbid. And a pianist two drags can ruin social sing. So true. But it's true. 

So many times, it's the piano who ends up being in charge and he's saying, no, it's not the case. The community has to be in charge. And be sure that most of the singers know the song before you try and do a round. This is very practical. But then you get this kind of attitude which is about trying your hand at community singing. Start with straightforward tunes everybody knows, that's very nice. Keep them amused and interested for as long as you can. And after you've gained some confidence in dealing with a large number of people, try what you can do with a real choir. 

So often up until today when I mention to people what I do, they assume I'm talking about choirs. Now I have no problem with choirs. Choirs are fantastic, but they are not the only way to sing with other people. And what I love about the community singing movement is by and large, apart from this example, the bit that's valid is you all together singing. That's it. It's fantastic. And you can specialise in making that a really satisfying, fabulous event. It doesn't mean that it's not quality, it's just different, the intent is different. So, I think that's an important thing to remember. In terms of future directions for the research, I'm hoping to develop a greater understanding of the reception of community singing at the time. I've found some criticisms in England of the English community singing movement. For example, saying, well, what do you think people aren't singing? Why do you need this? This is ridiculous. 

Or that it's not quality. That's another one I've seen, but mostly of the English movement. I'd like to try and find some more responses from Australia and I'm yet to find them. I want to explore interwar community singing movements of different countries, particularly New Zealand. I'd be really interested in again to see what repertoire is being shared across the water there. I want to do some more in-depth analysis of the reflexive songs, particularly. Which I think is very interesting – and particularly a more nuanced understanding of that relationship with mental health and wellbeing. Further exploration of those radio magazines. They're glorious, but they are a rabbit hole, and I just didn't have time. They're so many and they're all on Trove. Thank you. And can we just say, yay for funding for the National Library. We're very happy about that aren’t we? 

And I also want to look at this change that seems to occur around the Second World War and after where these songs seem to move into school curricular and sort of out of the community and Dominion Song book. This is a New Zealand publication that was being used in Australia at the time. This is where it kind of seems to start. This is one of these kind of documents that shows these songs being used in school curriculum, not just kind of school songs to sing for fun, but school curriculum. And I think that there may have been that shift then. That it went into the school system and kind of left the community a little bit at that stage. I want to do more of a musicological analysis of that top hundred and explore what's really going on there, what musicologically is going on in terms of the songs people were really attracted to. 

I'd also like to explore more of the living memory of community singing. A dear friend and mentor of mine, John Diamond, before he died, I was talking to him about this and he says, “Oh yes, it was all the housewives.” I was like, really? So apparently women – this would've been a way women could have gotten together weekly. He said, yes, you go – They'd go to the community singing before the weekly shop. And so maybe that's why Ma is going, because there's an opportunity for her to get out of the house and have a nice time, thank you very much. Which I think is really – So I'd like to get some of that sort of living memory, lived experience or even stories of people who remember people who went to community singing. While we have them here, I'd like to collect that. I'm already trialling singing these songs, including some that I didn't know before in some situations with older Australians. 

And my gosh, it works. They still remember all these songs. It's amazing. And return some of these histories as I've talked about. We are actually – we've been – we've done some singing in Queanbeyan. We're going to Araluen on April 30th, and we are doing a Braidwood on May the fourth, Star Wars Day. And we are continuing on, and this is due to a grant from the New South Wales government for regional recovery put together with the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council. I'm a Queanbeyan girl, so it's really wonderful we're able to go around and tour and bring back some of this heritage and collaborate with some of the local historical societies because they often have some really fantastic material that we can highlight as well. 

And explore some other historical periods. I'm a classicist and I have a job in the Centre for Classical Studies, so I've always been interested in the way music, particularly in singing in the community, can be used for that communal recovery. So, I really want to find some more examples of it across history. Thank you very much. I'd particularly like to thank the staff of the National Library. They've been so fantastic, particularly being a Covid fellow. They had to deal with a lot, and they were incredible. So, thank you so much and thank you all for coming. It's such a wonderful privilege to have you all here singing so well as well. Thank you. 

Marie-Louise Ayres:    Thanks so much Georgia. And I was actually sitting there thinking that our former colleague Averill and her sister Juliana, who was a school principal would've absolutely loved that tonight. It also, of course took me back when I came to the library 21 years ago, we'd started digitising our sheet music and just a reminder that almost all of the library's sheet music right up to about 1950 is available on Trove. And I do think you need to pursue the New Zealand connection because what you didn't mention is that we've got a beauty of a piece of sheet music that simultaneously is going back to Yarrawonga and going back to Whanganui. So double duty. 

So, I think there's much to be said for that anyway. So, look, I think you'll all agree that that was just a fantastic, I guess kind of delving into not just what the songs were, but what this meant, how pervasive a practise it was. When you talked about housewives going off before doing the shopping, I thought, is that today's book club? Maybe it is. Maybe it's something, a communal way of engaging in culture. Now look, we're actually close to our time and I actually suspect that if you've got questions, you're going to bail Georgia up afterwards. Because I think you're going to agree with me sometimes as the boss of this place, I get to make a decision. And tonight, I'm going to say more singing. Thank you. So, thank you Georgia. Give us ¬– take us away with a few more.

Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney:    Well actually I think we should do this one because it's sort of a goodbye song anyway, which is there is a tavern in the town. Now I actually feel a bit silly that I didn't know it before. But then of course as soon as I looked at it, I went, oh, I know this. It's head, shoulders, knees, and toes. It's weird. So, it's head, shoulders, knees and toes. Knees and toes. There is a tavern in the town. In the town. So, you may not realise you know it, but you actually know it. So, we better have a sing. Here we go. 

Singing:    There is a tavern in the town, in the town,
And there my dear love sits him down, sits him down,
And drinks his wine 'mid laughter free,
And never, never thinks of me.

Fare thee well, for I must leave thee,
Do not let the parting grieve thee,
And remember that the best of friends must part, must part
Adieu, adieu, kind friends adieu, adieu, adieu,
I can no longer stay with you, stay with you,
I'll hang my harp on a weeping willow tree,
And may the world go well with thee.

Fare thee well, for I must leave thee,
Do not let the parting grieve thee,
And remember that the best of friends must part, must part
Adieu, adieu, kind friends adieu, adieu, adieu,
I can no longer stay with you, stay with you,
I'll hang my harp on a weeping willow tree,
And may the world go well with thee.

Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney:    Well done. One more. Which one? Song of Australia. Now does anyone know this? We've sort of forgotten it, but in fact it's quite lovely. The poem was written by a lady, Caroline Carlton. She won a competition, and this song almost became the national anthem. South Australia voted for this one, in fact. David Whitney, I know you are from South Australia. So, you are nodding. Do you know this one? Yay. There we go. Someone knows it. It's quite lovely. So, we'll sing it through twice. If you don't get the rest of the tune, don't worry. But it ends with three very big Australia’s. And you have to do it with gusto. Here we go. 

Singing:    There is a land where summer skies
Are gleaming with a thousand dyes,
Blending in witching harmonies, in harmonies.
And grassy knoll and forest height,
Are flushing in the rosy light,
And all above is azure bright,
Australia! Australia! Australia!

There is a land where summer skies
Are gleaming with a thousand dyes,
Blending in witching harmonies, in harmonies.
And grassy knoll and forest height,
Are flushing in the rosy light,
And all above is azure bright,
Australia! Australia! Australia!

Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney:    And can we please thank Susan West. Thank you everybody. Thanks so much, Marie-Louise. Absolutely. Three years in the making, but we got there, didn't we? Thanks everybody. 

Join Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney as she presents a participatory musical lecture on her 2020 National Library Fellowship research about community singing in interwar Australia.

Community singing was a vibrant and widely popular phenomenon in interwar Australia. In the period from 1918 to 1939, the community contended with the aftermath of WWI and the Spanish Flu pandemic, the Great Depression, and the global instability leading to WWII. Community singing was a simple but effective way to bring people together, often with the explicit aim of helping people to cope and carry on.

Distinct from choral singing or participatory performances such as music hall, ‘community singing’ had its own repertoire, methods and proponents, as described by Australian composer Jack Lumsdaine in his comical song from 1930, Since Ma’s Gone Mad on Community Singing. Every week, radio stations across the country broadcast community singing events that filled town halls in towns small and large. Community singing was also a mainstay of university campuses, clubs and societies, and political and religious groups.

Watch and learn about this under-appreciated and lively aspect of our Australian musical heritage, brought to life by the Library's extensive music and ephemera collections, with piano accompaniment by Dr Susan West. Attendees are welcome to dress up in their finest 1920s and 1930s outfits, in the spirit of interwar community singing!  

Dr Pike-Rowney is a 2020 National Library of Australia Fellow, supported in memory of Averill Edwards.

About Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney

Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney is a transdisciplinary researcher and practitioner, whose work encompasses music, community outreach, classical studies, health and wellbeing, and history. She splits her time as the Friends Lecturer and Curator of the Classics Museum at the Australian National University, and co-Director of the Music Engagement Program.