Song Saviour

Fam­ily to doc­u­ment field recordist

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Ali­cia Perera

A man heav­ily in­volved in record­ing tra­di­tional Abo­rig­i­nal song in north­ern WA will soon be­come the sub­ject of a doc­u­men­tary, and his fam­ily are seek­ing help from lo­cals who knew him.

Field recordist John Hutchin­son, who died last Au­gust, ded­i­cated his life to cap­tur­ing the sounds of the Pil­bara and Kim­ber­ley re­gions where he spent over a decade liv­ing an of­ten soli­tary bush­man’s life.

Now his niece Jan Mal­colm and her chil­dren are chron­i­cling his ex­tra­or­di­nary life in a doc­u­men­tary called Save That Song, and will soon visit the Pil­bara.

Mr Hutchin­son was born in south western WA and first ven­tured north in 1959 for work with the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture.

He started record­ing lo­cal in­dige­nous peo­ple’s songs, cor­ro­borees and na­tive lan­guages that year. His high-qual­ity record­ings were added to the Sounds of Aus­tralia Registry at the Na­tional Film and Sound Ar­chive late last year.

Ms Mal­colm said her un­cle was so ded­i­cated he would even re­lay mes­sages be­tween dif­fer­ent in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties on his record­ing ma­chine.

“I don’t think he re­alised at the time he was do­ing some­thing so im­por­tant,” she said.

He later fo­cused on record­ing na­tive bird calls.

Ms Mal­colm said the doc­u­men­tary was still in its early stages and the fam­ily would like to speak to peo­ple he met in the Pil­bara.

You can con­tact Ms Mal­colm by email­ing her at jan.mal­colm@mal­

Pic­tures: Jan Mal­colm

The late John Hutchin­son lis­tens as his great niece Madeline Mal­colm reads from his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy Save That Song, on lo­ca­tion for the doc­u­men­tary about his life.

The late Mr Hutchin­son in the field with his home-made record­ing ma­chine.

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