Joe Birrarri, a Murriny-Patha-speaking Dimirnin clansman
and one of the composers of djanba
songs, also composed his own repertory of
is a style of
didjeridu-accompanied song normally composed and owned by
speakers of Daly languages (e.g. Marritjevin, Marri Amu,
Mendhe, Emi, Batjamalh), whose traditional country lies to
the north of Wadeye (see Marett 2005).
Joe Birrarri received his wangga
songs in a dream
in which he was visited by a yawa
, the spirit of a
deceased Marri Amu clansman.
Because he was not a Marri Amu speaker, Joe Birrarri
could not translate these wangga
songs from the
Marri Amu spirit language used by the yawa
dream into either everyday Marri Amu or into his own
language Murriny Patha, so the songs remained
unintelligible to both the singer and his audience.
Joe Birrarri playing marluk (didjeridu) circa
1941. Photographer unknown (photo courtesy of Wadeye
Aboriginal Language Centre collection).
Joe Birrarri's wangga songs were recorded by W.E.H. Stanner
in 1954, by Lesley Reilly in 1974 and by Michael Walsh in
1972. After Joe Birrarri's death nobody else was able to
carry on the repertory, so it is no longer performed at