Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

Skip to content

Use Trove to find more resources by/about this Woman

  • Trove

Moyle, Alice Marshall (1908 - 2005)


25 December, 1908
Bloemfontein, South Africa
9 April, 2005
Academic and Ethnomusicologist
Alternative Names
  • Brown, Alice Marshall (maiden name)


Alice Marshall Moyle was an ethno-musicologist of high renown whose work is always referred to whenever Aboriginal music is studied in schools and tertiary institutions. A talented musician, she was prompted by a talk by A.P. Elkin, then Professor of Anthropology at the University of Sydney, to undertake a study of some recordings of Aboriginal music he had made. She was awarded the Master of Arts (Hons) for this work in 1957. She then undertook her own field trips to complete the first systematic attempt to identify and musically characterise the many different styles and genres of Aboriginal music found in northern and central Australia. Her doctoral thesis, awarded in 1975, was one outcome of this work.

Moyle was a founding member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (AIAS) and became a Research Officer there from 1964 to 1965. From 1966-73 Moyle was AIAS Research Fellow in Ethnomusicology, based at Monash University and later a Research Fellow and Research Officer at the Institute in 1973 and 1974 respectively. Her work included the documentation of Aboriginal sound instruments, the history of Aboriginal music and dance through film, field recordings, archaeo-musicology, analysis, taxonomy, and the cataloguing and indexing of ethno-musicological material held in the Institute. She took a great interest in the preservation of recorded sound material and was the guiding force behind the establishment of the 'Sound Archive' at the (then) AIAS.

Moyle also played a key role in the establishment of the Musicological Society of Australia and in 1982-83 served as the Society's National President. She was later instrumental in forming a branch of the International Council for Traditional Music in Australia. She became a Member of the Order of Australia - General Division on Australia Day 1977, was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities on 4 November 1994, and received a degree of Doctor of Music (honoris causa) from the University of Sydney in 1989 and another from the University of Melbourne in 1995.

Sources used to compile this entry: Musical Connections: The Life and Work of Alice Moyle, 2005,; J. E. Kirkham, MS 3501 - Alice Moyle Collection, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra, August 2006,

Archival resources

AIATSIS Manuscript and Rare Books Collection

  • Alice Moyle Collection, 1886 - 2005, MS 3501; Moyle, Alice Marshall (1908 - 2005); AIATSIS Manuscript and Rare Books Collection. Details

Nikki Henningham

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

© Copyright in The Australian Women's Register is owned by the Australian Women's Archives Project
and vested in each of the authors in respect of their contributions from 2000

The Australian Women's Register is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

The Australian Women's Register is published quarterly by the Australian Women's Archives Project
ISSN 2207-3124