One Night the Moon: Instrumentation

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This post describes the instrumentation of the film One Night the Moon to inform those studying the text of the instrumental choices and their meanings – cultural, social and dramatic.

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Flinders’ Theme features violins, a low-pitched tin whistle, uillean pipes (pipes of the elbow), cello, bass drone and lute. The pipes and violins are typically found in Irish music and in that context are used for many purposes – to be grand, to lament, to dance and to be playful. The versatility of these instruments is boundless in Irish music but in Flinders’ Theme it is grand – like the landscape. Flinders’ Theme aims to contextualise the farmers who settled in the area and more specifically the family of Jim, Rose and Emily. Their cultural heritage, relationships to the indigenous people and to the land, needed to be firmly established musically as well as visually, so that their reality as a happy family could then be understood to be deteriorating as the story unfolded.

The Moon Child theme features female voices, which reappear through the film to represent the moon. We made draft recordings prior to shooting the film but ultimately we sang to the final cut so that the music responded to the moves of the moon and the child.

The Gathering features bodhran (a frame drum played with a stick), violins, uillean pipes, lute, cello and plucked bass notes. Later it also features a hand drum borrowed from the Greek musical tradition. The piece rolls along in a ‘call to arms’ to accompany the line search – an activity which has marred Australian history since European settlement.

Hunger draws from the Cretan tradition which is most evident in the use of the lute and a giant lyra (and upright violin) called a lyroukla. For this we also played rocks, a large pod of seeds, a clay pot, a drum with a stick and violin. This piece really monumentalises the frustration and failure of the father who had invested all his hope in being able to find the child by himself. During this piece, we see him isolated, distraught and hopeless on the hillside. This kind of piece is in stark contrast to the more comforting Flinders’ Theme

Nightshadows features similar instrumentation but starts with Kev whistling – the sort of whistles you can make when you cup your hands – mimicking the cooee of searching and communicating in the bush. Dijeridu is embedded in this sound scape – I recall when we recorded it, the birds in the courtyard began to tweet in response to the sounds and I you can still hear them at the end of that piece. The sound scape, being free and amorphous also sits in contrast to Flinders’ Theme and The Gathering which have a more formal musical structure.

Moody Broody features lute, violin and cello (and probably references Greek music structure more than Irish music) and builds tension around the feelings of the mother, who has very few lines or words and is silent for much of the film. Dijeridu is also featured here, when the tracker and mother come together in a weird, unexpected meeting. Moody Broody reflects the mother’s highly emotional state, and her desire (coupled with fear) to connect with the tracker in case he can help her.

Dijeridu also features in This Land is Mine. Kev and I chose to embed the dijeridu into the instrumentation and across pieces in the work– as we did with nearly all the instruments in the work.

Moment of Death is in the style of an Irish lament. Laments are common to the traditions that I have engaged with – Greek, Cretan and Irish music – and serve a variety of purposes in their own contexts. They can appear with or without lyrics, and may celebrate a renowned leader or event. A lament without lyrics seemed appropriate in One Night the Moon as there seemed to be nothing more to be said once everyone accepted that the child was gone. A child is lost, indigenous knowledge was offered but denied, the family is divided, efforts to bridge any gaps are thwarted/impossible – and eventually the child dies. This is the lowest point of the drama and emotions are running high, but time is taken out to focus on the loss and its loneliness through this music and the landscape.

Little Bones gives the mother a voice, and again features, lute, violin, lyroukla, frame drum, and pizzicato bass. It is played in free time as a song with lyrics and then turns into an instrumental march as the body is delivered to the father. The piece ends with a rendition of One Night the Moon from the film’s opening, plucked on violin and mandolin, to recall the child with her family.

Finally, Ruby Hunter chose to song a hymn rather that a song Kev and I had written called The Human Hymn as she thought it better to use a traditional hymn. We are so glad she made this choice, and that her earthy voice and incredible presence was captured in the film.

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Refugee week at The Huddle

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Refugee week saw a range of activities at The Huddle. Students from St Aloysius College learnt about migration, reflecting on why people migrate, their own heritage, multicultural communities and belonging. They viewed digital stories made by students at The Huddle relating their journey to Australia.

Our journeys - Huddle digital stories
Our journeys – Huddle digital stories

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The Huddle also hosted the launch of the Department of Education’s Vision for English as an Additional Language, by Ministers Dixon and Kotsiras. At the launch, two EAL students spoke of how they have grown through The Huddle.

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Mohamed was born in Kenya and is of Somali background. He arrived in Australia at a young age and is a Year 10 student who attends the Study Support program about 3-4 times per week. He is footy mad and plays for West Coburg, having previously played with our local team Flemington/Kensington Junior Football Club. He is also in the AFL Multicultural Development Squad for under 16’s.

Mohamed is grateful for the fact that his footy pathway has been supported by The Huddle. This week he is undertaking work experience at The Huddle, alongside Multicultural Development Officer, Yahye Fitaax. He has already enjoyed meeting the players, footy and administrative staff which has broadened his understanding of careers in sport, including the need for mathematics to run a footy club and statistics to select a team.

Apollonia arrived in Melbourne from Crete in February this year. As an Australian citizen, she has taken the opportunity to be educated here, joining the increasing number of Europeans who have entered new arrivals programs and schools over the past couple of years. Whilst she seems fluent and her accent is distinctly Australian, she has struggled with vocabulary and with writing in specific subject areas. At The Huddle she  has been supported in maths, through our Maths Clinic, for her studies at Mount Alexander College at Year 10 level. She also took part in the Unity Cup where she made new friends, learnt some footy skills and got to mix with students from other local schools.

It was a pleasure to learn alongside first and second generation migrants during refugee week, hearing their perspectives on the migrant experience, on belonging and on welcoming people from all cultures into the community.

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Multicultural Melbourne

This month secondary students aged 13-14 have been coming to The Huddle to investigate migration and multiculturalism. They do this by listening to stories from recent migrants recorded at The Huddle and by exploring stories of migration to Victoria over time.

Of the groups who have already visited, about 80% of them have parents who were born overseas. Despite this they initially appear to have limited knowledge of their families’ experiences. Another 10% were themselves born overseas and this group tends to know and be willing to share more about the journey, the reasons behind their parents’ departure and the circumstances in the countries they left behind.

It has been interesting to note that about 90% of these students speak a language other than English at home and in the community. Many students of African and South American heritage know about their countries’ political situation in some detail – of dictators, changes in government, elections, war, gangs and freedom (or lack of).

Students research a country of their choosing using the Immigration Museum’s Origins website that provides information gathered from the census on migration to Victoria. They learn 5-10 words in a new language and take note of their heritage by placing a mark on a world map. They discuss what multiculturalism looks like in Melbourne and record each others’ views on how or where they feel they belong using Flip Cameras.

Their observations are always intriguing.

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