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While we were in Wadeye in July, our ARC project team (Linda Barwick, Allan Marett, Michael Walsh, Joe Blythe, Nick Reid and Lysbeth Ford) finalised our project website, which was formally approved by the Kardu Diminin elders on July 28. Wadeye has had a lot of bad press lately, but it really is an amazingly rich place for languages and songs. This website deals only with the public ritual song styles performed and owned by members of the Murriny-patha-speaking clans, the main genres being djanba, malgarrin and wurltjirri. Elders at Wadeye and our project team have been working hard to document all the song recordings: for example, so far we have identified 104 djanba songs, all of which seem to be in grammatical Murriny Patha, and the majority of them have been transcribed, glossed and translated.

Two other public ritual song genres performed in Wadeye are: wangga (owned and performed by speakers of Marri Tjebin and Marri Ammu, and the subject of Allan Marett's recent book Songs Dreamings and Ghosts); and lirrga, owned and performed by speakers of Marri Ngarr (Lys Ford and I have recently written paired articles about lirrga songs, forthcoming in the journal Musicology Australia).

For further details, see the website! Feedback welcome, either here or from the contact page on the website.

Comments

Hi Linda, the site is gorgeous!
Are the Murriny Patha Malgarrin songs similar to the Malgarri/Malwarri style in Arnhem Land?

That is a very interesting question and one that I'd love to find out more about! I believe Malkarri in Central Arnhem Land is didjeridu-accompanied, while the malgarrin songs are sung in Kimberleys balga style by a mixed group of men and women. There is also a Malkarri (shake-a-leg) song style from North Queensland, I'm told. E.g. the Yalarnnga vocab by Gavan Breen includes the entry malkarri 'corroboree', and Wolfgang Laade's CD 'Songs of the Aborigines' (Lyrichord, 1993, from recordings made in Cape York in 1963) includes several 'malkari' dance song items. It's interesting to speculate that these forms may all be related, perhaps via the travels of stockmen along the pastoral industry routes from North Queensland to the Kimberley.

I've only heard one set of Malgarri singing - it was at Milingimbi last year as part of initiation business. It was by Burarra singers from Cape Stewart (Maningrida) and was definitely associated with the country further west than Milingimbi. There was didjeridu accompaniment, and the boomerang accompaniment was very distinctive (each phrase ended with two groups of three claps, and the verse ended with one group of 6). The singing was all done by men (iirc) but both men and women were dancing.

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The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.
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