When Anna Davies first enrolled in Indigenous Music and Media at the ANU School of Music, she could not have imagined that it would earn her a prime job at DAMsmart, Australia’s leading audiovisual digitisation and archiving firm.
As a second-year BMus student with a background in Piano, her participation in this intensive course exposed her to the unique teaching of the ARC Discovery Indigenous Fellow, Wanta Jampijinpi Patrick, and to Dr Aaron Corn’s archival work with endangered Australia’s Indigenous song traditions.
Having previously studied sound recording techniques at the School of Music, Anna was then selected to undertake a lucrative Sound Archiving Internship at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), which provided her with highly-specialised training in the profession of audiovisual archiving. Only two interns are presently placed with AIATSIS each semester.
“It was wonderful to work as part of such a dedicated community of professionals at AIATSIS”, Anna said. “The level of mentoring I received from the archivists there was extremely high. I was given very interesting recordings to work with, and I very quickly came to understand the vital nature of sound archiving in a world of rapidly changing technologies and formats. It’s also a great reward to know that these recordings matter to people like Wanta, whose grandchildren will be able to use them at AIATSIS in the future.”
During her internship, she was also chosen to represent AIATSIS at the recent Australasian Sound Recordings Association (ASRA) Conference at the National Film and Sound Archive.
Marisa Harris, the AIATSIS Sound Archivist who conceived of these internships, added that: “It’s been excellent training these Music students from ANU. Basically, to land a job as a sound archivist, you need practical experience, and there are virtually no other undergraduate courses in Australia that provide this opportunity. We assign our interns to special projects that we wouldn't normally be able to prioritise, and they make an important contribution to improving public access to our collections overall. It’s also very rare for women to train as sound archivists, so it’s been wonderful to have Anna on board.”
On the strength of her work performance at AIATSIS, she was recommended by archivists there for a peak industry job at DAMsmart, Australia’s only commercial audiovisual digitisation and archiving facility, which services major contracts with the Parliament of Australia, FHCSIA, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Archives of Singapore, the Olympic Council of Asia, the State Libraries of NSW and SA, and the Prime7 television network.
“This is a career like no other”, Anna explained. “To work in a living archive, where new approaches to using new technologies are being developed and debated internationally all the time, is very exciting.”
MUSI2213 Indigenous Music and Media is a five-day intensive course on Indigenous Australia that is open to all ANU students. The ANU School of Music offers AIATSIS Sound Archiving Internships to students enrolled in MUSI2214 Music Research Project 1 and MUSI3313 Music Research Project 2.
Photo: Second-year BMus student, Anna Davies, operates a state-of-the-art digital audio workstation at AIATSIS. (A Corn 2013)