Marri NgarrLirrgaSongs: A Musicological Analysis of Song Pairs in Performance

Linda Barwick
2005 Musicology Australia  
This article discusses a set of lirrga songs performed for Allan Marett on 1 October 1998 at Wadeye in Australia's Northern Territory by a group of senior Marri Ngarr men comprising the singers and composers Pius Luckan and Clement Tchinburur, the ritual specialist John Nummar (who acted as backup singer), and the karnbi (didjeridu) player Benedict Tchinburur (younger brother of Pius Luckan and Clement Tchinburur). The texts of these songs and information about Marri Ngarr language are
more » ... in the companion article by Ford in this volume. The song session was performed for Marett to teach him about Marri Ngarr songs, and to document lirrga songs for future generations. The Muyil Lirrga The twenty-nine songs performed for Marett on this occasion were selected by the performers from a much larger set of approximately 100 songs in the 'Muyil lirrga' set, named for Marri Ngarr country in the Moyle River floodplain. 1 The same singers also composed and recorded another set of eighteen lirrga songs known as 'Church lirrga', which I have discussed in a previous article. 2 Marett recorded two other repertories of lirrga songs in the Daly region in the 1980s and 1990s: one set belonging to Jimmy Numbertwo, a Marri Ngarr man resident at Daly River, and another set belonging to the Ngen'giwumirri singer and composer Long Harry Kilimirri. 3 Lirrga songs are public didjeridu-accompanied dance songs performed for two important public rituals at Wadeye: circumcision ceremonies of young boys, and 'rag-burning' ceremonies for the disposal of the belongings of a deceased person (typically performed eighteen months to three years after death), as well as for a 1 The repertory is also sometimes referred to as the 'Wudipuli lirrga', after the Marri Ngarr outstation of that name situated on the banks of one of the tributaries of the Moyle River (see Figure 2 ). Recordings of Muyil lirrga songs have been made at Wadeye by
doi:10.1080/08145857.2005.10415276 fatcat:wfcdpzrvqrhzzjvbbgh2ibxqiq