For the sake of a song


CD 5, Track 12

TRACK 12 (Mar88-23-s02) Song 1: Kubuwemi [120]

Sung text   Free Translation  
karra kubuwemi kimi-wurri kavulh[-a]karra kubuwemi kimi-wurri kavulh[-a]aa  He [a Walakandha] has always sung ‘Kubuwemi’ to meHe [a Walakandha] has always sung ‘Kubuwemi’ to meAa 

Wagon Dumoo composed this song about Kubuwemi, the site on which the outstation of Nadirri now stands. Like a number of other songs, it asserts that Walakandha are an eternal source of songs about country (see also Marett, 2005, p 127). The recording, like those of the following three tracks, was made by Allan Marett at a circumcision ceremony at Wadeye on 17 May 1988 and the excitement surrounding the ceremony is palpable in the performance.

Wangga Image

Wagon Dumoo, composer of ‘Kubuwemi’, sings at a circumcision ceremony in Wadeye in 1988. (Photo Mark Crocombe C_007_2)

The text as given is the standard spoken form, and the same construction appears in earlier songs (tracks 10 and 11). Here the sung version seems to consistently omit the final syllable (whereby the perfective suffix ‘-a’ is added to ‘kavulh’). In everyday speech, this omission would change the meaning from ‘he has always sung…’ to ‘he always sings …’, but our consultants always included the -a in their explanations of this song. Marett has argued that the sung text is a truncated form of the standard spoken text (Marett, 2005, pp 146-47). The next track, ‘Yendili No. 1’ (track 13), using a parallel construction, also omits the suffix.

Song structure summary


Melodic section 1

Text phrases 1-2

Rhythmic mode 2 (slow even beating)

karra  kubuwemi  kimi  -wurri  kavulh  [-a] 
SW  place name  3MIN.S.R say/sing  towards speaker  3MIN.S.R lie   [PERF] 

He [a Walakandha] has always sung ‘Kubuwemi’ to me

Text phrase 3

Rhythmic mode 1 (without clapsticks)




Rhythmic mode 5a (fast even)


Rhythmic mode 5b (fast doubled)