For the sake of a song

Watjen Danggi

CD 7, Track 14

TRACK 14 (Mar98-14-s09) Song 6: Watjen-danggi

   
Sung text  Free Translation 
karra mana kayirr-a kani-tjippi-ya kayirr-awandhi-wandhi kimi kayirr-akani-tjippi-ya watjen-danggikarra mana wandhi-wandhi kimi kayirr-awatjen-danggi  Brother! He was making footprints as he wentHe looked behind as he wentDingo was making his printsBrother! He deliberately looked backDingo! 

Although wangga songs are sung in circumcision ceremonies as well as for mortuary rites, it is rare for a song to address the theme of circumcision directly. Since circumcision is seen as being analogous to death (the boy dies to childhood and is reborn as a man), the death-related themes are as appropriate in this context as in mortuary rites. This song is an exception in that it seems to refer directly to the initiation process. When a boy are removed from the society of women and taken on a ritual journey and seclusion prior to the circumcision rites, he is referred to as a wild dog (watjen danggi in Marri Ammu, ku were in Murriny Patha). This song, then, is probably about a boy being taken into seclusion in Marri Ammu country. As he walks up the beach towards from the cliffs at Karri-ngindji to Yilhyilhyen beach (see track 15), the wild dog looks back, just as a boy will look back to the relatives that he has left behind. Ngulkur told Marett that this song is one of the few in the corpus that does not refer to a Dreaming or a Dreaming place, but this statement seems to be contradicted by the announcement that he makes during the didjeridu introduction: ‘I’m going to take up “Dingo running across the sand.” It’s really my Dreaming.’ This was perhaps a slip made in the heat of the performance.

The construction of this song, while not unique in the wangga genre, is somewhat unusual. It comprises a series of statements about the wild dog, strung together in sequence. The melody and the rhythm are also unusual. No other Ma-yawa wangga uses this melody, which is quite distinct from the two associated with Dreamings (perhaps indicating that the song is not about a Dreaming). The use of beating in a moderate tempo is also rare at Wadeye. While it occurs in a number of the early songs of the Walakandha wangga repertory—songs that are no longer sung—it has not been used for any other Wadeye wangga for several decades (see chapter 8 and Marett, 2007). In Ngulkur’s repertory this mode also occurs in the internal instrumental sections of ‘Tjerri’ (tracks 12 -13) and ‘Karri ngindji’ (tracks 20-21).