Like art, music and dance were interwoven with the social and religious life of Aboriginal Australians. Much traditional music was secular, but sacred songs were chanted at ceremonial times. Protracted song and dance cycles, often associated with special events such as initiations and funerary rites, were traded from group to group, eventually being performed far from their place of origin.
Nocturnal performances of song and dance took place whenever several groups were camped together. Usually men danced while women formed a chorus to one side, but women also had dances of their own. Singing was usually in unison, but people in some areas, such as Arnhem Land, practiced harmony. Participants kept rhythm by beating together resonating clap-sticks, tapping boomerangs together, or by hitting their thighs or buttocks with cupped hands.
The traditional wind instrument of the Aboriginal people in Arnhem Land is the didjeridu, a hollow piece of wood or bamboo about 1 to 1.5 m (3.25 to 5 ft) long and from 3.8 to 5 cm (1.5 to 2 in) in inside diameter. Its range of notes is limited, but it can produce intricate patterns of tone and rhythm. The Music and Dance of Aboriginal Australians had some very traditional feel that was typical of their culture.