Tommy Barrtjap (Burrenjuck) (c. 1925-1993) (?1925-92), a Wadjiginy songman resident at Belyuen on the Cox Peninsula, Northern Territory, was well known throughout the Daly Region and Australia’s Top End as a ritual leader, wangga composer, and, in his youth, a talented football player. He frequently visited Darwin and performed for public concerts as well as ceremonial occasions. With other performers from Belyuen (Delissaville) he performed ‘tourist corroborees’ at Mica Beach (Talc Head) and later at Mandorah. As a young man, he was taught to sing by his father’s brother, Jimmy Bandak, and after the latter’s death inherited his repertory and continued to receive songs from him in dream. Bandak’s and Barrtjap’s musical activities at Belyuen in this early period are described in Ewers (1954), Simpson (1951) and Elkin and Jones (1958); see also Barwick and Marett (2011) for comparison of musical practice at Belyuen in 1948 compared to recent times.
Marett first met Tommy Barrtjap in 1986 on a visit to Belyuen. He was a tall rather severe man, in his mid-sixties, the men's ritual leader at Belyuen. At that time he was the senior wangga singer in the Daly region, and even today, some eighteen years after his death, his memory is held in the highest regard and his songs remain popular. Barrtjap’s repertory was passed on to his sons Kenny (1949-2008) and Timothy (1953-), and some Barrtjap songs are featured in the repertory of the Kenbi Dancers, a group of Belyuen performers who continue to perform tourist corroborees around Darwin.
When listening to songs recorded by A.P. Elkin at Delissaville (Belyuen) in 1949, Belyuen people today find it difficult to distinguish the voices of Jimmy Bandak and Tommy Barrtjap; they are described as having ‘the same voice’. Barrtjap helped us to transcribe and translate the texts of his songs, which are in a mixture of his own language Batjamalh and the language of Wunymalang ghosts, but he was never able to speak the words of his songs, preferring to sing them for us (very slowly, at our request, causing great hilarity amongst those present at the sessions).
Notes on the recording sample
Table 4.1 summarises the songs from the Barrtjap repertory discussed in this chapter, using the same system of numbering as in Songs, Dreamings and Ghosts (Marett, 2005). We provide at least one recorded example, together with transcribed, glossed and translated texts, for all but three of Barrtjap’s songs.  Where more than one version of a song is provided, it is normally because, unusually for Barrtjap, there are significant differences between two versions of a song, or because there are a number of versions of the song by different singers. For example, the four tracks of ‘Naya Rradja Bangany Nye-ve’ (tracks 16-19) were recorded by four different singers: Jimmy Bandak, Lawrence Wurrpen, Tommy Barrtjap and Kenny Burrenjuck. Considering that these performances range over almost fifty years, the versions are remarkably similar.
|Track 01||1||‘Ya Bangany-nyung Nga-bindja Yagarra’||Barrtjap||Moy68-05-s02|
|Track 02||2||‘Yagarra Nga-bindja-ng Nga-mi Ngayi’||Barrtjap||Moy68-05-s03|
|Track 03||3*||‘Bangany-nyung Ngaya’||Barrtjap||Moy68-05-s04|
|Track 04||‘Bangany-nyung Ngaya’||Barrtjap||Moy68-05-s05|
|Track 05||4*||‘Kanga Rinyala Nga-ve Bangany-nyung’||Barrtjap||Moy68-05-s06|
|Track 06||‘Kanga Rinyala Nga-ve Bangany-nyung’||Barrtjap||Moy68-05-s07|
|Track 07||5||‘Ya[garra] Nga-bindja-ng Nga-mi’||Barrtjap||Moy68-05-s08|
|Track 08||‘Ya[garra] Nga-bindja-ng Nga-mi’||Barrtjap||Moy68-05-s09|
|Track 09||6||‘Yagarra Bangany Nye-ngwe’||Barrtjap||Moy68-05-s10|
|Track 10||7||‘Be Bangany-nyaya’||Barrtjap||Moy68-05-s11|
|Track 11||8*||‘Nyere-nyere Lima Kaldja’||Barrtjap||Mar88-04-s02|
|Track 12||9*||‘Nyere-nye Bangany Nyaye’||Barrtjap||Mar88-04-s03|
|Track 13||10*||‘Karra Ngadja-maka Nga-bindja-ng Ngami’||Barrtjap||Mar88-04-s07|
|Track 14||11*||‘Yerre Ka-bindja-maka Ka-mi’||Barrtjap||Mar88-05-s11|
|Track 15||12||‘Yagarra Ye-yenenaya’||Barrtjap||Mar88-05-s02|
|Track 16||13*||‘Naya Rradja Bangany Nye-ve’||Bandak||Elk52-19B-s04|
|Track 17||‘Naya Rradja Bangany Nye-ve’||Burrenjuck||Mar97-04-s16|
|Track 18||‘Naya Rradja Bangany Nye-ve’||Wurrpen||Mad64-02-s15|
|Track 19||‘Naya Rradja Bangany Nye-ve’||Barrtjap||Mar88-05-s03|
|Track 20||14||‘Yagarra Nedja Tjine Rak-pe’||Barrtjap||Mar88-05-s06|
|Track 21||15*||‘Ya Rembe Ngaya Lima Ngaya’||Barrtjap||Mar88-05-s13|
|Track 22||16||‘Yagarra Tjüt Balk-nga-me Nga-mi’||Barrtjap||Mar86-03-s04|
|Track 23||17||‘Yagarra Tjine Rak-pe’||Barrtjap||Mar86-03-s06|
|Track 24||18*||‘Yagarra Delhi Nya-ngadja-barra-ngarrka’||Barrtjap||Mar86-03-s05|
|Track 25||19*||‘Nga-ngat-pat-pa Mangalimba’||Burrenjuck||Mar97-04-s07|
|Track 26||22*||‘Anadadada Bangany-nyaya’||Burrenjuck||Mar97-04-s04|
Table 4.1 Songs from the Barrtjap repertory discussed in this chapter. Songs known to have been sung by Kenny Burrenjuck are asterisked.
Tracks 1-9 are taken from a recording session made with Barrtjap in 1968 by Alice Moyle (Moy68-5) (some of these recordings were published by AM Moyle, 1977/1992, track 3). Because of the historical importance of this recording session, here we have included most of the songs recorded by Moyle on that occasion and present them in the order in which they were recorded. There then follows a sequence of tracks recorded by Marett in 1988 (tracks 11-15, 18, 20-21). This sequence is interrupted by a number of tracks included for comparative purposes made by Elkin in 1952 (track 16, Elk52-19B), Maddock in 1964 (track 17, Mad64-2) and Marett in 1997 (track 19, Mar97-4). The remaining tracks are all taken from recordings made by Marett in 1986 (tracks 22-24, Mar86-3) and 1997 (tracks 25-26, Mar97-4). Three Barrtjap songs (numbers 20 ‘Ngaya Lima Bangany-nyaya’, 21 ‘Nyala Nga-ve Bangany’ and 23 ‘Karra Bangany-nyaya’ in table 3.2 in Marett, 2005, p 247) are omitted here because the quality of performance and/or recording was insufficient for publication.