Welcome to this collection of Australian dance music. These are all tunes which have been collected over the past 40 years or so from dance musicians all over Australia by a small but incredibly dedicated group of people who have spent vast amounts of (usually) their own time and money to seek out the old musicians and preserve their music.
Australian dance music contains tunes that have come to Australia from all parts of the world with the migrants who settled the country, as well as tunes which were made here or adapted from others.Some, especially those used for the "Sets" - the Quadrilles which were so popular in Australia, are of British or Irish origin. The waltzes, schottiches, mazurka and polka tunes probably have origins all over Europe, but many are also no doubt known in the Americas in various forms.
The late, and sadly missed, collector and performer of Australian dance music Peter Ellis wrote an essay in 1995 on the history and background of Australian social dance, which he kindly allowed me to re-publish. Recommended reading for anyone interested in this unique aspect of Australian culture.
Many of the old-time players were accordionists, whose instruments were often in C/F or other keys, and many of the old fiddle players tuned their violins down a whole tone. The collectors and transcribers of the collected material usually transcribed the music in the key in which it was recorded, but I have taken the liberty of transposing most of the of the tunes into the 'peoples keys' of D and G. I'm a fiddle player and make no apology for wanting to play in these keys.
A good number of the tunes are now also in ABC for those who like this format.These ABCs have been kindly done by John Furlonger, to whom users should address any queries or difficulties. He has probably sorted out some of my original errors as well, bless him. There are also links for batches of tunes by dance type from the individual pages which include tunes not in the group of tunes in the link above.
There is a much more extyensive collection of Australian dance music at Bush Traditions an organisation set up to promote Australian traditional music.
Many of these tunes are available in publications from Carrawobbity Press, who publish a range of monographs, CDs and other publications.
Also we have here The Music of Harry Schaefer, which is published in paper form by Carrawobbity Press, and this electronic version contains all the text and some of the tunes. Some of these tunes were already on these pages, but they have now been grouped together.