For the sake of a song



Our greatest debt of gratitude is to the wangga songmen and to Frank Dumoo, who, as the senior ritual leader for wangga, has generously guided our work over several decades. At Belyuen, we thamk Tommy Barrtjap, Billy Mandji, Bobby Lambudju Lane, Kenny Burrenjuck, Timothy Burrenjuck, Roger Yarrowin, Simon Moreen; and at Wadeye and Peppimenarti, Thomas Kungiung, Maurice Ngulkur, Les Kundji, Philip Mullumbuk, Charles Kungiung, Ambrose Piarlum (all of Wadeye), Colin Worumbu Ferguson (Belyuen and Wadeye) and Martin Warrigal Kungiung (Peppimenarti). We would also like to thank the didjeridu players, Robert Daly (Peppimenarti), Nicky Jorrock, Ian Bilbil and Peter Chainsaw (Belyuen), and at Wadeye Gerald Longmair and Columbanus Warnir.

At Belyuen, Esther Burrenjuck, Alice Jorrock, Marjory Bilbil, Agnes Lippo, Audrey Lippo, Ruby Yarrowin and Theresa Timber have assisted in the translation, explication of text and in innumerable other ways. Without their ongoing support and support from the families of singers, our task would have been impossible. Particular thanks are due to Daniel and Lorraine Lane, and to Cathy Winsley.

At Wadeye, Marie Long, Jennie Jongmin, Mary Jongmin, Ruth Parmbuk, Patrick Nudjulu, John Chula, Laurence Kolumboort, Elizabeth Cumaiyi, Mary Magdalene (Manman) Birrarri, Rita Tharwul, Gypsy Jinjair, John Nummar, Pius Luckan, Clement Tchiburur, Benedict Tchinburur, Leo Melpi, Leon Melpi, Mercy Melpi, Martin Mullumbuk and Mary and Felix Bunduck all assisted our research and provided ongoing encouragement and support. Also at Wadeye, Mark Crocombe, Director of the Wadeye Aboriginal Language Centre and Curator of the Yile Kanamgek Museum, has provided ongoing support and advice over many years.

We are grateful to all the recordists and photographers and their families who have given us permission to reproduce the sound recording that are so integral to this publication. These are acknowledged individually in the text where relevant. We are particularly grateful to the family of Alice Moyle, and in particular her daughter, Carolyn Lowry, for granting us permission to publish, without fees, Moyle’s invaluable body of wangga recordings. We are also grateful to Mrs Patricia Stanner for permission to publish excerpts from the field notebooks of her late husband, W.E.H Stanner.

We are grateful for to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies for waiving publication fees for recordings and photographs reproduced in this volume. Particular thanks go to Russ Taylor, Grace Koch, Alana Harris and Luke Taylor. We are also grateful to Sotheby’s for permission to publish reproductions of Charlie Niwilhi Brinken’s paintings. Our friend and colleague Dr Payi Linda Ford has provided valuable feedback on our manuscript at various stages.

Thanks to the editorial and production staff at PARADISEC: Amanda Harris, Diego Mora, and Frank Davey; and in earlier years, sound engineering provided by Jim Franklin.

We’re deeply grateful to Ross Coleman, Susan Murray-Smith and Sten Christensen at Sydney University Press for responding so enthusiastically when this publication project was first mooted. From them, and also from Agata Mrva-Montoya (our editor) and Gary Browne (our web designer) we have received unfailing support and endless patience throughout the gestation of this long and technically challenging book.

The work presented here has been supported over the years by a series of grants from the Australian Research Council, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Studies, the Hong Kong Research Grants Committee, the Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project, and the University of Sydney.