Songmaking, for me, is about attending to a Country and the people of that Country; if you do this properly, the Country will give you a song. I first learned about this dynamic song process from my Mum. It took on new life at Eora Aboriginal College in Sydney in 2004, where I met Anmatjere/Arrernte singer and artist Rhubee Neale, who co-composed and sang “Keep Guard of our Dreams” with me. We sat together for half an hour in a small practice room at Eora, with a guitar and piano, and shared our memories of listening to Country. We talked of the still, small voice within, that our mothers had told us to pay attention to. As we shared or memories, this song gradually appeared, line by line. We wrote it down as its metered, accented lyrics came to us, complete with its breathed, intermittent, descending melody. We put our feelings into the shape and harmonies of this tune, and played what we heard on piano and in strummed guitar chords. The lyrics, melody, chords and metered rhythm of this song came to us all at once – we didn’t need to add anything, we knew it was good. We wrote the song into a Western style notated score, on treble and bass staves, then sang it for our Eora College music class. Then we sang it again, at our end of year 2004 Eora College DipMus Graduation Concert. Rhubee and I each have a handwritten copy of our original score of this song. Now released via Hyperion Records in the UK, Keep Guard of our Dreams is available on iTunes in a choral version commissioned by The Song Company for its mainstage production Songs from the Heart.
From little things, big things grow. Rhubee’s music is at the link below, and her art is in Australian galleries and homes – including mine.
Search “Keep Guard of our Dreams” in the iTunes store, to find this song on The Song Company’s Songs from the Heart CD, released by 1equalmusic on Hyperion.