Songs from the Stations: Wajarra as sung by Ronnie Wavehill Wirrpnga, Topsy Dodd Ngarnjal and Dandy Danbayarri at Kalkaringi

Songs from the Stations: Wajarra as sung by Ronnie Wavehill Wirrpnga, Topsy Dodd Ngarnjal and Dandy Danbayarri at Kalkaringi Book

Indigenous Music of Australia

  • Author(s): Turpin, Myfany, Meakins, Felicity
  • Secondary Author(s): Barwick, Linda
  • Published: 2019
  • Publisher: Sydney University Press
  • ISBN: ISBN 9781743325841 paperback ISBN 9781743325858 epub ISBN 9781743323427 mobi

Abstract: Singing is a universal activity, although the notion of a ‘song’ as generally understood in English is not found in every culture. Songs may originate locally, but they also travel, where they are picked up by different people and sung with a local touch. Folk songs, for example, have travelled across political, ethnic and language divides. Some ‘traditional’ Aboriginal songs similarly travelled great distances within Australia, where they too were sung by speakers of different languages. Some of these were shared among neighbouring groups and beyond, travelling along trade routes and gaining popularity, despite being in a foreign language and thus not understood. Throughout Aboriginal Australia, in addition to the localised land-based songs there are also songs that are sung purely for fun or entertainment, with no religious significance. Early colonists adopted the term ‘corroboree’ from the Sydney region word carib-berie (Hunter 1793: 143–45) for this genre, which they likened to European theatre; but as Clunies Ross (1986: 232) notes, the songs ‘were not generally received with much understanding’.This book is about such songs, in particular those known by Gurindji people at Kalkaringi, an Aboriginal community in the southern Victoria River District (VRD) of the Northern Territory (see Map 1). Such songs are called wajarra in Gurindji, and today they are only sung by senior men and women. With the massive social changes in remote Australia, wajarra ceremonies became less frequent by the 1960s and thus much harder to learn. In addition to the decline in performances, the songs themselves have features that make them difficult to learn. In this book we show how different the language of songs are from everyday speech. It is hoped that this book can help people learn wajarra today.

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Suggested Citation
Turpin, Myfany, Meakins, Felicity, 2019, Songs from the Stations: Wajarra as sung by Ronnie Wavehill Wirrpnga, Topsy Dodd Ngarnjal and Dandy Danbayarri at Kalkaringi, Book, viewed 20 July 2019, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=14874.

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