Approximately 1300 ethnographic field recordings of Tiwi songs, made between 1912 and 1981, are archived at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) in Canberra.

In November 2009, Genevieve Campbell and eleven Tiwi colleagues travelled to Canberra to reclaim these archived songs and song texts. The Old Songs are Always New explores their return home to the Tiwi Islands and reveals that the fundamentally contemporary, topical and current nature of the Tiwi song culture has resulted in the preservation of a rich social, cultural and historical oral record.

Campbell describes the melody, rhythm, vocal technique, language, performance context and function of the twelve Tiwi song types, and gives an overview of the language and poetic devices used in song composition.