For the sake of a song

Yagarra Delhi Nya-ngadja-barra-ngarrka

CD 1, Track 24

TRACK 24 (Mar86-03-s05) Song 18: Yagarra Delhi Nya-ngadja-barra-ngarrka

Sung text  Free translation 
ya  Ya! 
yagarra delhi nya-ngadja-barra-ngarrka  Yagarra! Wait! Come back here to me 
nanggang-gulhü kanya-bara-m  Don’t be frightened 
kuu yagarra nye-bindja-ng werret bangany ngwe ngwe  Kuu. Yagarra! Climb up, quick now! Song! Ngwe ngwe 
yagarra dü  Yagarra! Dü! 

This song is connected with a powerful and dangerous Dreaming, the Cheeky Yam, Wilha, who lives in the Bynoe Harbour, close to Belyuen. Barrtjap told Marett that it was about an event that occurred when he and a group of other people went hunting on Indian Island to the west of the Cox Penisula. There was a strong tide running and because the Wilha Dreaming is known to travel on the tide, Barrtjap and his party climbed up on a small hill to wait out the danger. The husband of one of the women—a man who was not a local, but from the Tiwi Islands—went to the southern tip of the island, from where he thought he saw the Wilha Dreaming coming after him. Barrtjap calls him up to the safety of the hill. The high calls heard in the song seem to indicate not only Barrtjap’s calls to the frightened man, but also (perhaps) the high call uttered by the Wilha Dreaming itself.

This song is discussed in more detail in Marett, 2005, pp 167–70, where there is also a transcription of the first part of the song.

Song structure summary


Melodic section 1

Text phrase 1

Rhythmic mode 2 (slow even)



Text phrase 2

Rhythmic mode 2b (slow even, stick beating suspended)

yagarra  delhi  nya  -ngadja  -barra  -ngarrka 
EXCL  wait  2 MIN.IR  come back  towards speaker  1MIN.IO 

Yagarra! Wait! Come back here to me

Text phrase 3

Rhythmic mode 2b (slow even, stick beating suspended)

nanggang  -gulhü  kanya  -bara  -m 
frightened  NEG  2MIN.S.R  travel  PRES 

Don't be frightened

Melodic section 2

Text phrase 4

Rhythmic mode 2b (slow even, stick beating suspended)

kuu  yagarra   nye  -bindja  -ng  werret  bangany  ngwe  ngwe 
SW  EXCL  2MIN.S.IR  climb  SIM  quick  song  SW  SW 

Kuu. Yagarra! Climb up, quick now! Song! Ngwe ngwe

Melodic section 3

Text phrase 5

Rhythmic mode 2a (slow even)

yagarra  dü 

Yagarra! Dü!


Rhythmic mode 2a (slow even)


Rhythmic mode 5a (fast even)

yit ngayi ngayi …