About MAMU

History of MAMU

A large proportion of MAMU’s holdings were initially acquired by staff and students who carried out ethnomusicological fieldwork since the Music Archive was founded in Monash University’s then Department of Music in 1974.

The Archive’s collection has been developing for almost 50 years. During this time, several special collections have been acquired. These include the:

  1. Louise Lightfoot Collection of South and Southeast Asian music, dance and theatre materials,
  2. Jeune Scott-Kemball Collection of Javanese music and wayang theatre from 1930-1950
  3. Tagore Collection of rare nineteenth century Indian instruments
  4. European collection of shawms and crumhorns
  5. Alice Moyle collection of cylinder recordings of early twentieth century Aboriginal music
  6. Vera Bradford collection that includes correspondence, music books, photographs, programs and other mementos from her performance career.

Among the Archive’s holdings are unique artefacts such as the Gamelan Digul made, in 1926, from any materials at hand by anti-colonial political prisoners in a Dutch prison camp in Papua New Guinea.

Due to their size, three of the special collections are listed as separate archives. Chronologically, the first of these is the Sumatra Music Archive, established in 1975. The Japanese Music Archive was established over a decade later in 1988.  And the Australian Archive of Jewish Music was officially opened in December 1994.

Since the 1970s, items from the Archive have been used extensively for teaching, research, publications, concert performances, and public exhibitions. Its holdings have heritage and restorative potential as in the case of audio and audiovisual recordings from Aceh which remain a living testament of certain music and cultural traditions that could have been irretrievably lost when whole village communities were wiped out by the 2004 tsunami.

Research material in MAMU can be grouped into a number of different media categories:

1. commercially-released sound recordings in the form of

  •  wax cylinders
  • 12inch, 10inch, and 7inch LP and 78rpm records
  • analog and digital cassette tapes1
  • compact discs

2. commercially-released VHS video recordings

3. field recordings (many of which are annotated) in the form of

  • open reel-to-reel tapes, cassette tapes, DAT tapes
  • minidisks, compact discs
  • VHS, Beta, Video 8 and MiniDV video tapes
  • VCDs and DVDs

4. print media, all either collected in the field or donated, and comprising

  • scores and sheet music
  • theses
  • publications such as newspaper cuttings, pamphlets, journals and books
  • memorabilia such as scrapbooks, diaries, maps, artefacts and costumes
  • slides and photographs

5. rare musical instruments (including historical instruments and orchestras or ensembles) from Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, China, Japan and more used for both study and performance.

These rare, fragile and/or historical musical and related materials have been collected and documented for use in research and exhibition projects, as well as for their heritage value.  Selected images (slides, photographs), and audio and audiovisual recordings have been digitised and placed in the Monash LaRDS repository for preservation purposes and, where permissible by copyright, onto the Monash ARROW website for public access.