For the sake of a song

Mubagandi

CD 4, Track 25

TRACK 25 (Mar97-05-s01) Song 14: Mubagandi

   
Sung text   Free Translation  
a karra mubagandi ye-me-ngadja-nganggung-bende mmkarra ye-me-ngadja-nganggung mmye-me-ngadja-nganggung ye-me-ngadja-nganggung-bende mmkarra ye-me-ngadja-nganggung mm  Tell him to come back for you and me now, poor buggerTell him to come back for you and meTell him to come back for you and me, tell him to come back for you and me nowTell him to come back for you and me 

This performance was recorded in 1997, not long after the death of Lambudju. According to its Emmiyangal singer Roger Yarrowin, the song was composed by Lambudju and given to Yarrowin just prior to Lambudju’s death (Marett and Barwick field tape DAT97/10). Because of various linguistic errors in the song text, some of our consultants have suggested that Yarrowin himself must have composed the song, which therefore must have been given to him by Lambudju in a dream after Lambudju’s death. Given the liminal role of wangga songs within the interstices between the living and the dead, it is not surprising that people wish to sustain this mystery. [99]

According to fluent speakers of Batjamalh, the text of the song contains grammatical mistakes that a fluent speaker like Lambudju would not have made. Ka-ngadja is a simple verb meaning ‘he returns.’ While in Emmi it is possible to split off -ngadja (‘return’) and use it as a coverb with the inflected auxiliary -me (‘do, say, tell’), as Yarrowin does, you cannot do this in Batjamalh. Perhaps this grammatical inconsistency points to Yarrowin’s imperfect recall of Lambudju’s text. Grammar aside, this would most easily translate as ‘Tell him to come back to you and me.’ In broad terms, the singer seems to be singing to a recently deceased relative, appealing to him to come back.

A second aspect of the song that may point to creative intervention by Yarrowin is the unusual melodic structure. While Lambudju often sang vocables and occasionally fragments of meaningful text in the lower octave, this usually occurred during the instrumental section. Here the lower octave melodic sections (2 and 4) are integral to the song. A possible model for this practice might be ‘Karra Balhak Malvak’ (track 10), where melodic section 3 contains text sung in the lower octave. The latter is an old song, however, from Lambudju’s fathers’ generation, not a song composed by Lambudju himself. See the music analysis section of this chapter for further discussion of musical features of this song.

Song structure summary

VOCAL SECTIONS 1-2

Melodic section 1

Text phrase 1

Rhythmic mode 5c (fast uneven quadruple)

   
karra  mubagandi  ye  -me  -ngadja  -nganggung  -bende  mm 
SW  SW  poor bugger  3MIN.S.IR  do  come back  1/2MIN.IO  now  SW 

Tell him to come back for you and me now, poor bugger

Melodic section 2 (lower octave)

Text phrase 2

Rhythmic mode 5c (fast uneven quadruple)

   
karra  ye  -me  -ngadja  -nganggung  mm 
SW  3MIN.I.R   do  come back  1/2MIN.IO  SW 

Tell him to come back for you and me

Melodic section 3

Text phrase 3

Rhythmic mode 5c (fast uneven quadruple)

   
ye  -me  -ngadja  -nganggung  ye  -me  -ngadja  -nganggung  -bende  mm 
3MIN.I.R   do  come back  1/2MIN.IO -  3MIN.I.R   do  come back  1/2MIN.IO  now  SW 

Tell him to come back for you and me, tell him to come back for you and me now

Melodic section 4

Text phrase 4

Rhythmic mode 5c (fast uneven quadruple)

   
karra  yeme  -ngadja  -nganggung  mm 
SW  3MIN.I.R do  come back  1/2MIN.IO  SW 

Tell him to come back for you and me

INSTRUMENTAL SECTIONS 1-2

Rhythmic mode 5c (fast uneven quadruple)