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MUSIC OF SAVAGE NATIONS.              239
calling by name, one of the performers, whom she reviled as a coward, and challenged to come forward and meet her charge, and answer it.
The warrior was swift enough in his response, and, bounding through the fire, into the circle, he recounted his deeds of valor in both chase and war. At every pause he made, his female admirers took up the list of his praises, vaunting his actions in a sort of chant which they accompanied with extemporized drums, made of rolled kangaroo skins.
" Suddenly upon some inspiring allegro move­ment of the thumping band, thirty or forty grim savages would bound successively through the furious flames, into the sacred arena, looking like veritable demons on a special visit to terra jirma; and, after thoroughly exhausting themselves, by leaping in imitation of the kangaroo, around and through the fire, they vanish in an instant. After this, the old lady who was the origination of all the hubbub, gave a signal, upon which, all the females rose, and quite unadorned, gave a series of acrobatic performances around the fire, that were strange and wonderful to behold. The main point being however, with each of them, to out-scream her sister singers."*
In the dances of Australia and Tasmania, only the rudest instruments of percussion are used, and the chants are not musical, though sometimes (rarely) the attitudes are graceful. A far more musical and poetical people, are the New Zea-
• Wood's Nat. Ui»t. of Man, t. I, p. 68

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III