For the sake of a song

Wörörö (Crab)

TRACK 8 (Moy68-02-s4) Song 4: Wörörö

         
Sung text  Free translation 
karra ngany-ngana-yi  This was from me 
karra nganya-rtadi-mbele thawara ngayi  Let me always walk on top of the mangrove for you 
karra ngany-ngana-yi  This was from me 
karra nganya-rtadi-mbele thawara ngayi-nö  I will always walk on top of the mangrove for you 
ö  Ö 

Like ‘Wak,’ this song about Wörörö (Crab) Dreaming shows Muluk’s love of minimal textual variation. The two couplets, ‘This was from me/Let me always walk on top of the mangrove for you’ and ‘This was from me/I will always walk on top of the mangrove for you’ are almost identical. The only difference in the original Mendhe is that the second couplet ends with -nö, a morpheme that is not present at the end of the first couplet.

At the beginning of each couplet, the song-giving ghost states: ‘this’—that is, the song—’is from me.’ The association of this text with ‘Crab’ comes from the second text phrase, reflecting the fact that people have to walk on the sharp mangrove spikes when crabbing. The significance of the song is no longer fully understood. Perhaps the speaker is getting crabs for a sweetheart, but we can assume that, as with other wangga, there is also a deeper significance relating to death. [73]

Muluk gave Alice Moyle the following spoken text about Crab, which, together with the sung text, has been discussed elsewhere in more detail by Ford (2007, p 78).

JM: Awa wörörör kaknganawandhinö wörörör. Pörrme karrabidjendan. Tjinbilirr nganiyulhuk. Awanö nganyanöve. Ngaden kaneneyi wörörör yene yeri. Nganalhukngungaya. Kanangalhat. Ngarragumbudirr. Ngundanma yene beyik. Nganaya ngandan nganyadut. Nganyanöve. Ngundanma yene beyik. Ngandhivelhe kakdjen nganakal.

‘I will always go away and follow crab. The tide is out again. I go into the mangrove swamp. I’ll always sing for [crab]. I saw crab sitting in a hole. I’m entering the hole, facing away from me, against my will. It bites me, I grab the claw. I put it into the bag. I walk away, I hang up the bag, I find a crab. I’ll always sing for [the creature]. I put it into the bag. I got it for you and I’m climbing up [out of the mangrove swamp].’

Here, as in the other songs recorded at the Mandorah tourist corroboree in 1968 (tracks 1, 5 and 7), there are many vocal sections—nine in all. As Marett has observed elsewhere (Marett, 2005, p 88), danced performances—particularly those for tourists—tend to have a greater number of vocal sections than non-danced performances.

Song structure summary

VOCAL SECTIONS 1-9

Rhythmic mode 1 (without clapsticks)

Melodic section 1

Text phrase 1

   
karra  ngany  -ngana  -yi 
SW  1MIN.PRO  from  PERF 

This was from me

Text phrase 2

   
karra  nganya  -rtadi  -mbele  thawara  ngayi 
SW  1MIN.S.IR walk  back  2MIN.BEN  mangrove  1MIN.S.IR lie 

Let me always walk on top of the mangrove for you

Text phrase 3

   
karra  ngany  -ngana  -yi 
SW  1MIN.PRO  from  PERF 

This was from me

Text phrase 4

   
karra  nganya  -rtadi  -mbele  thawara  ngayi  -nö 
SW  1MIN.S.IR walk  back  2MIN.BEN  mangrove  1MIN.S.IR lie  PURP 

I will always walk on top of the mangrove for you

Text phrase 5

 
öSW 

Ö

INSTRUMENTAL SECTIONS 1-2

Rhythmic mode 2a (slow even)

INSTRUMENTAL SECTION 3

Rhythmic mode 4a (moderate even)

INSTRUMENTAL SECTIONS 4-8

Rhythmic mode 2a (slow even)

INSTRUMENTAL SECTION 9

Rhythmic mode 4e (moderate doubled)