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Aussie Gum Leaf Music

The Fooles Troupe 11 May 06 - 07:05 AM
Sandra in Sydney 11 May 06 - 08:52 AM
Bob Bolton 11 May 06 - 11:33 PM
Bob Bolton 12 May 06 - 12:15 AM
The Fooles Troupe 12 May 06 - 12:24 AM
Bob Bolton 12 May 06 - 12:36 AM
Bob Bolton 12 May 06 - 08:20 AM
Big Jim from Jackson 12 May 06 - 01:05 PM
Sandra in Sydney 12 May 06 - 09:49 PM
The Fooles Troupe 12 May 06 - 10:17 PM
Sandra in Sydney 13 May 06 - 09:11 AM
The Fooles Troupe 13 May 06 - 09:24 PM
cobber 14 May 06 - 02:57 AM
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Subject: Aussie Gum Leaf Music
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 May 06 - 07:05 AM

Aussie ABC RN (Radio National) Verbatim program is currently playing a program about a gum leaf player - he wrote a song called 'Numeralla Pines'. His name was Herb Patton - he has a new CD. He attended gum leaf players competitions at Maryborough in Queensland. He mentioned the existence of tapes and records of gum leaf players, and gum leaf orchestras, in various countries all around the world.

It was in teh 8:35pm slot, which the current playlist gives no details other than "Oral History".

Only found a couple of brief references here at Mudcat.

Joybell made a passing reference, and another is in The Leaf Player of the Zocalo

In an old thread I also wrote "There WAS a famous Gum-leaf player in Australia many years ago. I'm not sure if he was Aboriginal, but the instrument is uncommon, but known of, and still performed around the traps. :-) Bob Bolton or some other Aussies surely know more than me about it, - may have even been in other threads - if not - then perhaps it should?"


Ok so now it has its own thread!


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Subject: RE: Aussie Gum Leaf Music
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 11 May 06 - 08:52 AM

"Take me Back to Bendigo - Gold Rush to Federation & Beyond" - Triple CD produced by Peter Ellis.

CD2 - Track 4 Australian Bird call mimics on gum leaf, Aboriginal performed by Herb Patton

track 5 - Archival track - Aboriginal Gum Leaf Band, from 1935 film "The Squatter's Daughter"

CD3 - Track 7 - Londonderry air, performed by Herb Patton

.....................

"Verandah Music - Roots of Australian Tradition", ed. by Graham Seal & Rob Willis (Freemantle, Curtin University Press, 2003, book & 2 CDs)

Wendy Eva (born 1952) - Gumleaf Musician, taught by her father, an old bushman who had learnt from Aboriginal players. She performs in the old Aboriginal & bush tradditions.

Virgil Reuters (born Malaysia 1939)- Gumleaf Virtuoso, taught by a classmate at school in Malaysia, new style performer who plays country, blues & jazz.

Leaf (gum or otherwise) playing is not confined to Australia. There are leaf musicians who make their music in Europe, South East Asia & the Pacific.

........................

my computer desk is not made for typing stuff from a coffee table size book, so I'll stop now, maybe more later

sandra


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Subject: RE: Aussie Gum Leaf Music
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 11 May 06 - 11:33 PM

G'day Foolestroupe,

A few years back, the Bush Music Club had a couple of gum-leaf players on the books (they also played saw and other improvised instruments - I'm not sure they are still playing ... or around.

Back a few generations, gum-leaf playing was a lot more common. A few years back I heard an ABC documentary about a Koori (South-East Australian Native) gum-leaf band that was appearing in a mid-Victoria town ... and was stranded for a week or so by a sudden flood. The townspeople - despite their own troubles and inundations - paid the band to perform several more times over the week, so they didn't go home empty-handed!

I was looking through early issues of the Victorian Folk Music Club's Tradition Magazine (carried on from the '50s Gumsuckers' Gazette at Tradition from early-mid '60s until ~ mid-'70s) and one of the early songs (by Len Fox ... ?) was about a well-known Melbourne street busker of earlier years - a Koori playing gum-leaf. I'll dig it out, when I get home, and add it to this thread.

Leaf-playing can be on any suitable leaf ... and was common in rural societies of Europe - and the various colonies of European powers. I have a BBC Radio program, recorded on cassette, about various historical music forms and it has a band (Austrian ...? Czech ...?) playing arranged music on (pear) leaves. I think you need a fairly young gum leaf to get good volume and response ... but don't pick on the squarish, blue-tinted juvenile leaves of the Sydney Blue Gum (eucalyptus saligna) ... they are dose up with cyanide - to discourage hungry koals!

Of course, the schoolboy's comb & tissue paper is a development of the same technique as leaf-playing.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Aussie Gum Leaf Music
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 12 May 06 - 12:15 AM

G'day again,

Errr... I omitted saying that the Koori band, of my second paragraph, were back in the '30s - the Depression era, so the effort by the townspeople to make sure they were not out of pocket was a some personal expense!

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Aussie Gum Leaf Music
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 12 May 06 - 12:24 AM

So, to help Max, what about US connections with this topic? You could start a separate thread if you want.


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Subject: RE: Aussie Gum Leaf Music
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 12 May 06 - 12:36 AM

G'day Foolestroupe,

Well, I would put odds on leaf-playing being one of the few portable instruments the slave population of the American South could have brought with them ... and would wonder if it featured in the 1850s "Minstrel Shows".

I was interested to learn that, among the various visiting American acts (coming over to skim the Gold-Rush pool) back in the 1850s/'60s were "Minstrel" shows ... not just the "whites in black-face" variety - but groups of real Black Africam-Americans, who couldn't get much work back in America, where the field was full of the blacked-up whites, but who did well in Australia. Apparently some whole groups stayed here ... and there was one ex-"Minstrel" who became a prosperous hotelier ... and another who was elected to State Parliament!

Anyway, I'll follow up that thread ( ... leaf ... ?).

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: Lyr ADD: The Gumleaf Musician
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 12 May 06 - 08:20 AM

G'day all,

This is the song of which I wrote:

(From Australian TRADITION, vol 1, no. 1, March 1964. Published by Victorian Folk Music Club and the Folk Lore Society of Victoria.)

The Gumleaf Musician
Words based on a poem by Len Fox /usic based on the tune Lord Franklin (Lady Franklin's Lament ... ?)

No more his music fills the city street -
His gumleaf music shrill & strange & sweet.
The children loved his gentle face -
An ancient member of an ancient race.

We took away his living and his land,
And left him with a gumleaf in his hand.
But with this leaf, in return for wrong,
He made for us his kindly gift of song.

(NOTES) GUMLEAF MUSICIAN:
To make this song, Joy Durst used part of a poem, of the same name, by Len Fox and set it to the traditional tune Lord Franklin. It refers to Billie Bull, one of the few remaining Aborigines in Victoria, who died in 1954. He used to play the gumleaf in the streets of Melbourne.

Here is the tune (represented in the "No longer supported by Mudcat" MIDItext program of Alan of Oz (at least you can mine the ABC version from the bottom of the text string ... and the tune IS the standard Lady Franklin's Lament ...:


MIDI file: gumleafm.mid


Timebase: 240


TimeSig: 2/4 24 8

Tempo: 069 (857143 microsec/crotchet)

Start

0360 1 62 080 0096 0 62 064 0024 1 67 080 0096 0 67 064 0024 1 69 080 0096 0 69 064 0024 1 71 080 0096 0 71 064 0024 1 71 080 0096 0 71 064 0024 1 69 080 0096 0 69 064 0024 1 67 080 0096 0 67 064 0024 1 64 080 0096 0 64 064 0024 1 62 080 0096 0 62 064 0024 1 64 080 0288 0 64 064 0072 1 64 080 0096 0 64 064 0024 1 69 080 0096 0 69 064 0024 1 71 080 0096 0 71 064 0024 1 72 080 0096 0 72 064 0024 1 72 080 0096 0 72 064 0024 1 71 080 0096 0 71 064 0024 1 69 080 0096 0 69 064 0024 1 66 080 0096 0 66 064 0024 1 62 080 0096 0 62 064 0024 1 62 080 0288 0 62 064 0072 1 74 080 0096 0 74 064 0024 1 71 080 0096 0 71 064 0024 1 71 080 0096 0 71 064 0024 1 67 080 0192 0 67 064 0048 1 69 080 0096 0 69 064 0024 1 71 080 0096 0 71 064 0024 1 72 080 0096 0 72 064 0024 1 74 080 0096 0 74 064 0024 1 74 080 0288 0 74 064 0072 1 62 080 0096 0 62 064 0024 1 71 080 0096 0 71 064 0024 1 71 080 0096 0 71 064 0024 1 72 080 0096 0 72 064 0024 1 69 080 0096 0 69 064 0024 1 66 080 0096 0 66 064 0024 1 69 080 0096 0 69 064 0024 1 67 080 0096 0 67 064 0024 1 67 080 0096 0 67 064 0024 1 67 080 0288 0 67 064

End


This program is worth the effort of learning it.

To download the March 10 MIDItext 98 software and get instructions on how to use it click here


ABC format:


X:1

T:

M:2/4

Q:1/4=69

K:C

D8|G2A2B2B2|A2G2E2D2|E6E2|A2B2c2c2|B2A2^F2D2|

D6d2|B2B2G4|A2B2c2d2|d6D2|B2B2c2A2|^F2A2G2G2|

G5||



Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Aussie Gum Leaf Music
From: Big Jim from Jackson
Date: 12 May 06 - 01:05 PM

Jimmy Driftwood played the hickory leaf on a recording he made with some of his Arkansas friends around Mountain View and Timbo, Arkansas. David Para, of the duo Cathy Barton and David Para, uses the leaf in most of their performances. Actually, he caries around a piece of plastic down-spout extender in his billfold. They perform in lots of state park venues, and they are not allowed to defoliate the trees! So, by using the piece of plastic cut like a leaf, he always is prepared and caries one in his billfold.   He digs it out during his stage performances to the amazement and shock of his audience. (Actually, he plays the darned thing pretty well)


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Subject: RE: Aussie Gum Leaf Music
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 12 May 06 - 09:49 PM

Leaf (gum or otherwise) playing is not confined to Australia. There are leaf musicians who make their music in Europe, South East Asia & the Pacific.

continuing -

In Australia leaf playing has a dual identity - on the one hand it is associated with the 'white' bush worker and stockman, and on the other, Aboriginal players of the laf are acknowledged as the source of the musical skill, as they are in many aspects of the bushman's craft. Certainly in the decades leading up to the Second World War, music on the gumleaf was recognised as a symbol of Aboriginality in much the same way as the didgeridoo is today. It's not just a gumleaf though - most leaf players can play bits of plastic, snakeskin or whatever comes to hand, and some prefer exotic leaves.

Verandah Music for more about the book & CDs


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Subject: RE: Aussie Gum Leaf Music
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 12 May 06 - 10:17 PM

'players of the laf'

ROFL.... does that make them stand up comedians too?


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Subject: RE: Aussie Gum Leaf Music
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 13 May 06 - 09:11 AM

pedantic picky proofreader!!


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Subject: RE: Aussie Gum Leaf Music
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 13 May 06 - 09:24 PM

Just as well that you prooftread that thoroughly...


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Subject: RE: Aussie Gum Leaf Music
From: cobber
Date: 14 May 06 - 02:57 AM

The World Championship (yes, there is one) began in Maryborough but it was Maryborough in Victoria, not Queensland and was part of the Golden Wattle Festival. The first championship was a very low key affair with only three entrants. It was put on as a floor show in the middle of a bush dance that we played for and I think it was 1976 but I don't have my books here. The local champion was a bloke called Charlie French if I remember rightly but he was beaten by a Queenslander who kept his leaves pressed in as book. He was a superb musician but there was a lot of argument after the event that his leaves by being dried were a reed which gave him an advantage. The rules were revised for the next year and a branch was brought in fresh from the bush and competitors had to pick a leaf from it to play. The same Queenslander won, hands down and after winning a third year, it was becoming so depressing for the other players that he retired and took up a position as one of the judges. For some reason, the championship moved to South Australia and now attracts many players and hundreds of spectators. I don't know who won this year mut my old mate Jeff Willmott from Warburton has won it a few times. I have to disagree with you Bob that it's not much like comb and paper. Anyone can play comb and paper as that is done by humming the tune like a kazoo. Gum leaf is like a cross between playing a clarinet without the mouthpiece, and whistling which is the sort of action needed to vary the notes. Despite years of Jeff trying to teach me, I still can't get a note out of a gum leaf. There is also a lot of debate about the Aboriginal history. According to Jeff, who has made a study of it, it's more likely that it stems from American miners bringing over their ability to play on a blade of grass and transferring it to the leaves. There doesn't seem to be any evidence for aboriginal playing in early Australia and it's more probable that they learned to do it from stockmen in the bush and took it on at first as a means of signalling and later as a means of producing white man's music. There were certainly many aboriginal virtuosos early in the last century. There's probably enough research for a doctorate if anyone's interested


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