For the sake of a song

Karra Balhak Malvak

CD 4, Track 10

TRACK 10 (Mar86-04-s09) Song 3: Karra Balhak Malvak

Sung text   Free Translation  
[ka] (second time only)karra balhak malvak-karrang-makangarn-rdut-mene-ng ka-barabandawarra-ngalgin-bendenguk ka-maridje-ng ka-yevekarra balhak werret-bendemüng ya-mara nya-buring munguyil-malangngawardina ngawardina-djene-nung-bende  KaBrother Malbak has gone and left me behindAt Bandawarra-ngalgin nowhe is lying with one knee bent over the otherQuick now, brother,catch him up, fast-paddling one! With a floating log 

This song is addressed to the ghost of Lambudu’s father’s brother Aguk Malvak, one of the singers whose repertory Lambudju inherited. Malvak died some time after 1959, when he appears in the Northen Territory Register of Wards (1957, p 106)as ‘Argog’, tribal name ‘Mauwot’; his birth date is given as 1895. The reason that Malvak is addressed as older brother (balhak) is because the composer of this song was, according to Lambudju, one of Malvak’s younger brothers—the most likely candidates are Alalk or Tjulatji, both of whom were songmen. Ewers records Malvak as being one of the two main songmen at Delissaville in 1947 (the other was Barrtjap’s ‘father’ Jimmy Bandak) (Ewers, 1954, p 25). This song describes Malvak’s ghost lying at Bandawarra-ngalgin in one of the poses associated with the dead (one knee bent over the other, or ‘number four leg’ as this pose is commonly called), [98] and urges him to paddle across to Badjalarr (North Peron Island), the island of the dead to which all Wadjiginy people return.

Song structure summary


Melodic section 1

Text phrase 1a (vocal section 2 only)

Rhythmic mode 1 (without clapsticks)



Text phrase 1b

Rhythmic mode 1 (without clapsticks)

karra   balhak  malvak  -karrang  -maka 
SW  older brother  person’s name  ERG  PERF 

Brother Malbak

ngarn  -rdut  -mene  -ng  ka  -bara 
3MIN.A.1MIN.O  leave  SIM  3MIN.S  goR 

has gone and left me behind

Text phrase 2

Rhythmic mode 1 (without clapsticks)

bandawarra-ngalgin  -bende 
placename   now 

At Bandawarra-ngalgin now

nguk  ka  -maridje  -ng  ka  -yeve 
knee   3MIN.S  bend  SIM  3MIN.S  lie 

he is lying with one knee bent over the other

Melodic section 2

Text phrase 3

Rhythmic mode 1 (without clapsticks)

karra  balhak  werret  -bende 
SW  older brother  quickly  now 

Quick now, brother,

müng  ya  -mara  nya  -buring  munguyil  -malang 
arse  2MIN.A/3MIN.M.O.IR  kick  2MIN.S.IR  travel  paddle  FUL 

catch him up, fast-paddling one!

Melodic section 3 (lower octave)

Text phrase 4

Rhythmic mode 1 (without clapsticks)

ngawardina  ngawardina  -djene  -nung  -bende 
floating log  REDUP  with  PURP  now 

with a floating log


Rhythmic mode 3a (slow moderate ever)


Rhythmic mode 5b (fast doubled)