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Toksave: Culture Talks

The PARADISEC podcast series
Join musicologist Jodie Kell and archivist Steven Gagau from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in a series of interviews with people who have personal and cultural connections with the archive.

Music and language are central to identity in Indigenous communities and the return of legacy recordings made by researchers can be an emotional and exciting rediscovery of the past, contributing to the continuation of cultural practices. PARADISEC is a digital archive of materials from endangered cultures. Join musicologist Jodie Kell and archivist Steven Gagau from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in a series of interviews with people who have personal and cultural connections with the archive.  

Toksave Launch Party

Filmed on 14 November 2019 at Verge Gallery.

Season 2 (Episodes #6-9)

Episode 6

Fiji Hindi: Re-connecting with my Girmitiya Heritage

Tom Johnny Obed is a Paamese man living in Sydney. He is an associate of Steven Gagau through the Wantok Association of Sydney, a representative body for Melanesian people living here. Johnny, as he likes to be known, met linguist Terry Crowley during his fieldwork on Paama Island, when Johnny was teaching high school in Vanuatu. Our conversation touches on language, education and music as we discuss Terry’s recordings and writings, taking a moment to reflect on the gift he gave Johnny’s people.

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Episode 7

Rak Mak Mak Marranunggu, NT, Australia: Old ways for New Ceremonies

Associate Professor Payi Linda Ford and Emily Tyaemaen Ford, a powerful mother and daughter team talk about their research journey that lead to the creation of the LPF collection, a private collection held in PARADISEC. Payi and Emily share their experiences of listening to the voices of their relatives who hold important Marranunggu knowledge and language. It is an emotional rediscovery of the past and shows how online repository and archives can contribute to new ways of intergenerational knowledge transmission.

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Episode 8

Sinaugoro, Rigo District, PNG: Makes me think about my Language

Eileen Bobone and Matt Carroll join Jodie and Steven to talk about the 2020 Field Methods in Linguistics course conducted at the Australian National University in Canberra with a focus on the Sinaugoro language of the Rigo District of Central Province, PNG. The personal and cultural connections of Eileen as a Sinaugoro speaker working with Matt in the course led to conversations about the recordings in the AC1, MR1 and TD1 collections. From a linguistics context to storytelling of the Sinaugoro region, the conversations with Eileen brought about interesting cultural and gender-based perspectives.

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Episode 9

Paama Island and beyond, Tales of Sharks and Shark Spirits

Johnny Obed and Kirk Huffman join Jodie and Steven discussing the cultural significance of sharks in Vanuatu and across Melanesia inspired by stories in the SD1 collection of Simon Devylder. This episode sees the return of Paamese man Johnny Obed and he is joined by former long term curator of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Kirk Huffman. Kirk’s association with Simon on such recordings and research work motivated him to share his long experience in Vanuatu, across Melanesia and the Pacific supporting the maintenance of traditional cultures in a fast-changing world.  This episode sees Johnny and Kirk as storytellers sharing their knowledge and memories of Melanesian culture.

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Season 1 (Episodes #1-5)

Episode 1

Trobriand Islands, PNG: Our Culture is Just a Heartbeat

Steven Gagau, Grace Hull, Jodie Kell (L-R)

Grace Hull joins Jodie and Steven to talk about the RL1 collection recorded by Ralph Lawton in the Trobriand Islands, off the east coast of Papua New Guinea. Grace may live far from the village where she grew up, but she carries the village in her heart and this is very apparent as she shares her knowledge of Trobriand music and culture and comments on the value of these recordings.

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Episode 2

Rabaul, PNG: The Researcher and the Tolai

Michael Webb and Steven Gagau

When Sydney Conservatorium Associate Professor Michael Webb met Steven Gagau, they quickly realised they had Tolai connections and Tok Pisin language in common. It turns out that Michael did his PhD research in the Rabaul region where Steven is originally from. As PARADISEC digitised and archived MW6, Michael’s collection of tapes and videos, Steven found himself wearing different hats as archivist and community member. Listen in to the conversation between the researcher and the Tolai.

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Episode 3

Rabaul, PNG: The Music

Michael Webb with Narox Band of Rabaul

Following on from Episode 2, this podcast is a kind of blindfold test as we listen to a range of musical examples Steven has chosen from the MW6 collection, recordings Michael has not heard for 25 years. The ensuing conversation highlights the diversity and creative breadth of Tolai musical practices and their connection to the history and identity of the Tolai people.

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In the photograph Michael Webb joins members of the Narox Band from Duke of York Islands in Rabaul 1993 at a video shoot for their song ‘Tinora’. He wears traditional bilas [dance decoration/dress] and at the studio created the sax and trumpet riff for the song and played it on keyboard, then mimed it at the video shoot.


Episode 4

Pintupi, Australia: Just like a storybook

Linda Tjungkata Anderson

We are transported to the Western Desert of Central Australia as Pintupi-Luritja woman Linda Tjungkata Anderson listens to her father Nosepeg Tjupurrula singing songs from the Wanji Wanji public song set recorded by musicologist Professor Richard Moyle in 1976. These legacy recordings, held at AIATSIS in Canberra, were taken back to the community in 2018 by Dr Myfany Turpin. Linda’s interview is archived in MMT1, a PARADISEC collection of interviews Myfany has made with descendants of such legacy recordings and the sound of her father’s voice and his songs evoke Linda’s memories of a time when corroborees were part of everyday life.

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Episode 5

Paama, Vanuatu: This is gold to me

Jodie Kell, Johnny Obed, Steven Gagau (L-R)

Tom Johnny Obed is a Paamese man living in Sydney. He is an associate of Steven Gagau through the Wantok Association of Sydney, a representative body for Melanesian people living here. Johnny, as he likes to be known, met linguist Terry Crowley during his fieldwork on Paama Island, when Johnny was teaching high school in Vanuatu. Our conversation touches on language, education and music as we discuss Terry’s recordings and writings, taking a moment to reflect on the gift he gave Johnny’s people.

Listen now