I originally published this post back in February last year in the course of thinking and writing about the sound or sounds of ethnography – the sound of camp, the Homelands, and remote NE Arnhem Land in general.
This particular sound-scape (or part there of) is cut from the tail end of a recording with my two older sisters and ol’ ŋamala (M/MZ) – a recorded discussion about “Mission Time”. The conversation had tailed off and we were all nearly ready for a snooze (laying on a bed-sheet on an Indonesian-import plastic mat under the mango tree near the Green-house at Top-camp) when one of my sisters, Yethun, asked ŋamala if she remembered a particular funeral song (associated in some way with “Mission Time”). Her memory is fading in her old age, however, and what you hear at the beginning of this excerpt is ŋamala’s ‘newly revised’ version, which was more than a little creative, hence the laughter. Indeed, she trails off into a number of different songs at various stages (and varying degrees of non-sense) before Yethun begins to carry the song for her, correcting and encouraging her.
Flying up today.