DR Reuben Brown

DR Reuben Brown


  • Musicology and ethnomusicology (Indigenous Australian song and dance)



  • Dr Reuben Brown (PhD Ethnomusicology, University of Sydney) is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, and a Research Affiliate with the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language.

    Reuben has collaborated with Indigenous Australian ceremony leaders and artists as well as anthropologists, linguists, historians and musicologists to document living song traditions such as kun-borrk/manyardi, wangga, thabi and junba from the north of Australia, and to support the vitality and revitalisation of Indigenous Australian song more broadly. Reuben's research interests include:

    - Performance ethnography as a way of understanding intercultural encounter
    - Repatriation studies and the re-use of archival recordings in performance and the intergenerational transmission of Indigenous knowledge
    - The role of performance as a site for social and political change
    - The relationship between language and song
    - The relationship between musical differentiation and clan identities in Arnhem Land
    - Comparative musical analysis of Indigenous Australian song
    - The role of digital environments to support Indigenous ways of holding and practicing their performance traditions

    For his PhD thesis titled: ‘Following footsteps: the kun-borrk/manyardi song tradition and its role in western Arnhem Land society’, Reuben collaborated with ceremony leaders from the communities of Gunbalanya and Warruwi in the Northern Territory to return archival recordings from the 1948 American Australian Expedition to Arnhem Land, and document 15 contemporary song repertories from the Top End region, analysing their significance as part of funeral and reburial ceremonies, exchange ceremonies, cultural festivals, and informal events involving visitors.

    Reuben’s research for the ARC project ‘Hearing Histories of the Western    


Member of

  • International Council for Traditional Music. Member, ICTM Study Group on Music and Dance of Oceania 2015 -


Selected publications



Education and training

  • PhD, University of Sydney 2017
  • BMusHons, University of Melbourne 2009
  • BA, University of Melbourne 2009
  • DML, University of Melbourne 2005

Awards and honors

  • William McIlrath Memorial Scholarship, The University of Sydney, 2015
  • ARC DP1096897 Postgraduate scholarship, The University of Sydney, 2011


Available for supervision

  • N

Supervision Statement

  • Associate Supervisor

    Carissa Lee. Thesis title: 'Theatre as ceremony: cross-cultural collaboration, representation, and Indigeneity in Australian theatre' (PhD candidate, Indigenous Arts and Cultures)

    James Howard. Thesis title: 'Understanding connections to place through the application of sound technology and compositional practice' (PhD candidate, Indigenous Arts and Cultures)

    Fred Gesha. Thesis title: 'Cultural continuum of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural Practices' (Masters, Indigenous Arts and Cultures)