(click voicing to view and
According to Australian lore, a "matilda" is the the personal belongings pack
of a man (a swagman) who seeks casual work while traveling about carrying on
his back his portable shelter rolled up with his personal belongings. Thus, in antiquated Australian Pidgin, he is
"waltzing" his "matilda," or as we might say in America, he is "carrying his
As the two verses of song's lyrics indicate, he's resting under the
shade of a "coolibah" (an Australian gum tree) waiting for his "billy" (a
metal pot) to boil. Evidently he sees a sheep grazing nearby. He grabs the "jambuck"
(sheep) and jams it in his "tucker-bag" (a container that protects his food)
and takes off with it. If we were to sing the remaining verses of the
song, we would find that the owner of the land arrives with the authorities to
arrest him. He immediately jumps in the "billabong" (a large meandering lake)
and commits suicide. As the legend goes, his ghost may be heard by those
who pass that area to this very day.
variable voicing chart to see the options that are available. It is
published in the three-part version only, which can be sung as a two-part
setting, with Part III optional.
Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson
Australian Bush Song
Voicing: Two- and Three-part Variable with Piano
Arranger: Gwyneth Cooper
CP Catalog #U117451
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