Bush songs or bush ballads are a folk music and poetry tradition in Australia's outback. The rhyming songs, poems and tales often relate to the itinerant and rebellious spirit of Australia, a young country. The lyrical tradition of bush songs was born of settlers and influenced by Aboriginal society in the geographical areas referred to as The Bush. The performers are sometimes referred to as bush bards.
Many of the songs were composed in the 19th century and passed on through the generations. Several collectors have catalogued some of the songs. John Meredith's collection, assembled in the 1950s when he bought himself a very large tape recorder and carted it around to record people who had memories of the old songs, became the basis of the collection in the National Library of Australia. Earlier collections, such as Banjo Paterson's 1905 The Old Bush Songs, include only the lyrics and no musical notation; however, for some of the ballads a particular folk tune is suggested (see image of "The Dying Stockman" next section below).
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