Sound recordings and where to get them 

Walcha Road

About Us

Australian Folk Music

Old Time Musicians


Learning to play Aussie Tunes

Old Instruments



There are three main ways of accessing recordings of traditional Australian music.

Firstly - for serious scholars - there are thousands of hours of field recordings lodged by folk collectors in the National Library's sound archive. If you want to find out more about this, try contacting the library or else get in touch with other folklorists through (for example) the Bush Traditions website (go to our Links page). 

The second way is to get hold of cassette tapes or C.D.'s which actually feature traditional musicians. We recommend this, especially if you want to learn to play Australian music. However, you will have probably already guessed that many of our old musicians were recorded in their later years. Some of them were deaf, or had not played their instruments in many years before the collectors found and recorded them. For this reason, the recordings made of their music don't always make for pleasurable listening. In these cases, you are best to take advantage of the younger musicians who have revived their material and put it on C.D.

This is the third way ... through C.D.s and cassettes made by people like us (no, we still haven't got a CD to flog). There are many C.D.s now featuring traditional Aussie music. Some are a mixture of songs and dance tunes. Others have been produced specifically for dancers (correct tempo, with sets of appropriate tunes for a featured dance). Then there are those which just feature the music.

We can only recommend C.D.s which we've heard, but if you scan the titles  in the Traditional listing of  Trad&Now's catalogue, you won't go far wrong. Most of these C.D.s come with useful and interesting notes. In the meantime, just to get you started, here is a brief synopsis of several excellent C.D.s which you can easily get hold of (comments provided by Julie Castles):

Recommended Listening:

YOUR GOOD SELF  Dooley Chapman. Chris Sullivan's Australian Folk Master Series.

This C.D. features the late Albert "Dooley" Chapman of Dunedoo, N.S.W., playing concertina, talking and singing. Dooley was an expert concertina player who played for dances in his district over much of his long lifespan. On this C.D. Dooley plays on his own, and on some tracks is accompanied by Mark Rummery, a musician who played with Dooley while he was still with us. Mark's understated accompaniment is delightful. Music is interspersed with segments of Dooley chatting to Mark and to Chris Sullivan about his music and about his experiences playing for dances in his district. This is a unique recording, giving a real insight into the social and musical heritage of Australian bush dances. Dooley was a delightful man, and his humour and character shine through on this C.D. This is a "Must Have" C.D.

Trad&Now Catalogue No. TN343


KIND REGARDS  Charlie Batchelor. Chris Sullivan's Australian Folk Master Series. 

 Like the C.D. mentioned above, this is a "Must Have" item. Charlie was a fiddle player from Bingara, N.S.W. After being "discovered" by Chris Sullivan, Charlie attracted a following of musicians wanting to learn his tunes and to spend time with this remarkable man. The core of this group became the "Horton River Band". They appeared at a number of folk festivals, and it is evident from listening to Charlie that this experience brought him tremendous joy.  On the C.D. Charlie plays alone and with his band, and talks about his early experiences, reminiscing about the great musicians of his district from whom he learned his tunes. Charlie regarded his music as his most prized possession. This recording is his gift to us. You can read more about Charlie on the Horton River Band website (go to our Links page).

Trad&Now Catalogue No. TN344


SHARING THE HARVEST Field recordings from the Meredith Collection in the National Library of Australia.

This 2 CD set features 99 items from a broad range of traditional musicians and singers. If you really want to hear a great sample of our old timers, this is IT. Buy it from the Library, Trad&Now, or - of course - from the shop at the Natinal Folk Festival.


Originally from Tasmania, Eileen grew up on a farm learning the old  tunes from her family. Together they played for local dances,  where she learned more tunes from other traditional players. Eileen later met and married Athol McCoy, a travelling country singer. Together they toured for many years as the "Real McCoys". After his death, a group of younger musicians encouraged Eileen to make this C.D., which she dedicates to Athol's memory. (Athol's singing is featured on two tracks).

 The "hillbilly" influence in Eileen's playing makes for a unique sound, whilst the beautiful  accompaniments complement Eileen's fiddling. To quote the C.D. notes, her music is "part of a rich, unique and inspiring heritage and is essential listening for any fiddler. Her natural ability to hear, retain and play tunes is undiminished with time and has enabled us to produce this C.D. where she lets her fingers do the talking. Her skill speaks for itself"

 Trad&Now Catalogue No. TN222


This excellent recording features three fiddlers led by Greg O'Leary, with piano accompaniment. In the C.D. notes they remark: "We play in a style that is Australian in feel. All-important in traditional music, we believe our feel is representative of the countless unknown and almost forgotten fiddlers of the Australian rural culture."  Apart from several new compositions the tunes are all drawn from collected recordings of traditional fiddle players.

There is a definite swing in the style of this band, and the sweetness of the fiddling provides a listening treat. These highly accomplished musicians have given us a wonderful selection of old "bush" tunes enhanced by a good deal of spit & polish. Greg O'Leary's notes on the Australian style of fiddle playing are  especially useful for players trying to come to grips with this genre.

Trad&Now Catalogue No. TN078


Alan is a dedicated collector and student of old time music who has worked tirelessly to revive the playing & enjoyment of our traditional music and song. This CD is devoted to the fiddle. It features a stack of tunes from a wide selection of old time players, with notes on the sources. Alan plays fiddle, guitar and bass himself on this CD, which he also produced, recorded and mixed. The result is that the fiddle is always prominent, with every note clearly audible, whilst the guitar and bass provide a full-bodied, resonant backdrop which suits the genre. Alan also avoids the tendency to rush through a tune, and his moderate tempo makes this CD an excellent resource for anyone who wants to learn these tunes. His playing is sweet and melodious. Buy it from Alan (e-mail or look in the Trad&Now catalogue.