Page:The Aborigines of Australia (1988).djvu/54

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LANGUAGE—MUSIC.

romantic stamp of the dialects of the North American Indians forming one of the most interesting traits of their history and character.

In fulness of tone, variety of sound, and easy flow of expression, the language of the Australian tribes is, however, not to be surpassed. In proof of this it is only necessary to refer to the aboriginal names of the various localities throughout the colonies, some of which have now become familiar in Europe and America. On the other hand we are not without evidence that, for capability of expression and descriptive scope, some of the New Holland dialects by no means fall short of even the picturesque speech of the red huntsman of the North American prairies.

The soothing powers of the musical art are not altogether unknown among the aborigines. In their corroborees they sing and beat time with sticks, and their dance is performed to a rude species of music—"vocal and instrumental." Their musical instruments are few, two sorts being all that have been discovered. One of these is a species of kettledrum, formed of kangaroo skin and a piece of hollow timber, the former drawn tightly over the latter and secured at the sides, something after the fashion of the instrument in use among Europeans. The other is a species of pipe, made of bamboo, about three feet in length. The manner of sounding this instrument is a novelty in the musical world, as it is the only instrument known which is operated on by the nasal organ. Such is the method of sounding it as practised by these