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Wanji-wanji indigenous Australian song

Sandra in Sydney 18 Nov 22 - 08:38 PM
Helen 18 Nov 22 - 08:58 PM
Helen 18 Nov 22 - 11:01 PM
Sandra in Sydney 19 Nov 22 - 03:48 AM
Helen 20 Nov 22 - 05:40 PM
rich-joy 20 Nov 22 - 07:14 PM
Sandra in Sydney 20 Nov 22 - 07:14 PM
Helen 20 Nov 22 - 11:52 PM
Helen 21 Nov 22 - 01:00 PM
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Subject: Wanji-wanji indigenous Australian song
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 18 Nov 22 - 08:38 PM

The compelling mystery of the wanji-wanji – the enigmatic hit song that travelled across vast distances in space and time A few years ago, Noongar musician Clint Bracknell heard one of the catchiest hooks ever.
He was researching his PhD when he came across the song on the whirring tape of an old recording made in Esperance on the south coast of WA.
It surfaced again in an archival recording made in 1970 in the Goldfields town of Norseman, 200 kilometres north of Esperance.
And then he found it once more, in a written record made in 1913 at a remote settlement on the vast Nullarbor Plain — 900 kilometres away.
That handwritten document, which recorded 30 verses of the song, was made at Eucla by the self-taught anthropologist Daisy Bates.
A sometime "honorary protector of Aborigines" and full-time white saviour, Bates is infamous among Aboriginal people today for propagating the myth of the noble savage, of castes based on blood quantum and racial segregation.
When she wasn't smoothing the pillow of a race she supposed was dying, Bates did manage to capture the first written evidence of the wanji-wanji — the same song, with stylistic and regional variations, that Clint heard on the tape from Esperance.
At Eucla, Bates witnessed an opera-like performance of the entire wanji-wanji ceremony, unfolding in several acts with encores, later describing the ritual in letters and floridly in one of her newspaper columns published in 1915.
It lasted about a fortnight, and there were three performances daily, at 4am, 2pm, and at about 8pm … Neither those who brought the dance nor those who watched it could interpret the words or the actions," she wrote somewhat definitively
...

"Old Thanduriri from the Musgrave and Everard Ranges who was too old to take part in it, suddenly remembered that he had witnessed some of its scenes as a young man," Bates scribbled in her wildly cursive notes.
The old man's testimony is evidence that the song was performed at Uluru possibly as far back as the 1840s — before any white man had sighted the monolith at the geographical heart of the continent.
Intrigued, Clint Bracknell started emailing some professional colleagues working in the field — including linguist and music researcher Myfany Turpin, who worked in communities north of Alice Springs — to ask if they'd heard anything about this mysterious travelling song.
A few years later, Myf happened to record the song at Kalkaringi, near the site in 1966 where the Gurindji walked off Wave Hill Station in a dispute over pay and conditions – a stand-off that not only galvanised the land rights movement but which inspired another folk song, From Little Things, Big Things Grow by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody.
Myf remembers hearing it sung in 2015 by the late Ronnie Wavehill, a Gurindji senior traditional owner, knowledge custodian and storyteller, wearing his stockman's hat pulled down low.
He learnt the corroboree — that is, the unrestricted public song — as an eight-year-old boy when he lived at Inverway Station, 130 kilometres south-west of Kalkaringi
...

As their research unfolded in oral history interviews conducted in the field, they discovered that it was shared across more than half of the continent – with the infectious rhythm and the catchy lyrics almost completely unaltered
...

Although it had a cultural context, defining when it could be sung, associated dance moves and a theatrical staging like that Bates encountered at Eucla, the wanji-wanji was sung and performed freely, by men and women alike, wherever it travelled.
In this way, the wanji-wanji has "no boss" – it is unrestricted.
"He's everybody's song. No boss, nobody boss for this, not like Slim Dusty — one man singing it," says Ngarla man Charlie Coppin, who shared his memories of the wanji-wanji in an interview at Port Hedland.
It's not clear exactly what language the song's lyrics were composed in. However, it seems to be identifiably from the vast region of the Western Desert, belonging to the family of Indigenous languages known as Pama-Nyungan
...

The wanji-wanji was never completely translated and its literal meaning never fully documented, but perhaps that's not the point.
Just as a monolingual English speaker might sing along to La Bamba or Despacito, Ça Plane Pour Moi or 99 Luftballons, it didn't matter to singers of the wanji-wanji what the song was about – it just felt good to sing it
...

Hear Song With No Boss on ABC RN's Indigenous arts and culture podcast Awaye! via the ABC listen app, throughout Ausmusic month.


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Subject: RE: Wanji-wanji indigenous Australian song
From: Helen
Date: 18 Nov 22 - 08:58 PM

Thanks Sandra,

I was going to post the link but I wanted to find a way to hear the song too. I just tried your link to the podcast but it gives an error message saying that the audio file is unavailable.

One of the key things I found out from the article is the folk process at work for at least 100 years across the western half of Australia without communication technology as we know it, and that the origin and even the meaning of the song are mostly lost in the past.

Also, when I Googled Wanji-wanji, one of the topics which came up is the place at Lake Macquarie called Wangi Wangi (pronounced Wo'ndgy Wo'ndgy)- about halfway(?) between where I live and you live. It would be interesting if there was a link there too, way over here on the east coast of Oz.


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Subject: RE: Wanji-wanji indigenous Australian song
From: Helen
Date: 18 Nov 22 - 11:01 PM

This link seems to work:
Song With No Boss, and Purrumpa

The other page has a statement about copyright issues preventing the audio from being available for episode 2.


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Subject: RE: Wanji-wanji indigenous Australian song
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 19 Nov 22 - 03:48 AM

many thankyus


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Subject: RE: Wanji-wanji indigenous Australian song
From: Helen
Date: 20 Nov 22 - 05:40 PM

There is more to this story than just a song. There is history hidden within the story about the interactions of distant indigenous groups living in Australia, that is, before it became known as Australia following the white invasion.

It is an illustration of a pre-technology folk process relating to music and lyrics and the longevity of a song even into the technological age.

One thing that struck me while listening to the podcast is the joy in the voices of the indigenous people listening to the song and then recalling memories from their lives relating to that song.

I'd have to listen again to the podcast to find the exact quote, but one of the people said that the song is more than just a song, it is an integral part of their culture.

It is an illustration of the indigenous phrase, Always Was, Always Will Be.


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Subject: RE: Wanji-wanji indigenous Australian song
From: rich-joy
Date: 20 Nov 22 - 07:14 PM

Ooo, I'm glad you found a link that worked Helen, bcoz the 2 I tried just gave me the annoying copyright messages!!
I'll have another go as I'd really like to hear this story.
R-J


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Subject: RE: Wanji-wanji indigenous Australian song
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 20 Nov 22 - 07:14 PM

Wikipedia - Always was, always will be


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Subject: RE: Wanji-wanji indigenous Australian song
From: Helen
Date: 20 Nov 22 - 11:52 PM

I did a search on Google trying to find a video or audio file of the song, but one video I found was a short commentary, no song, by a woman with an American accent.

Esperance is pronounced Essper-'arnce, and WA is pronounce Waah. In case you didn't know. Sorry, had to laugh. Shouldn't laugh at our American friends, even when they say EE'-moo, instead of EE'-myoo.

Sorry, off-topic, I know.


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Subject: RE: Wanji-wanji indigenous Australian song
From: Helen
Date: 21 Nov 22 - 01:00 PM

The link I posted earlier Song With No Boss, and Purrumpa is a podcast which goes for an hour but only the first part is about the Wanji-wanji song. The presenter says at the beginning that it is the first part of a five part story.

The song starts at about 3 mins 40 and stops a minute or two later but there is talking over it. You'll hear a bit of it but not all of it. The song is introduced by the late great Archie Roach.


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