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Productive Ambiguity: Fleshing Out the Bones in Yolŋu ‘Manikay’ Song Performance, and the Australian Art Orchestra’s Crossing Roper Bar

Curkpatrick, Samuel (2013) Productive Ambiguity: Fleshing Out the Bones in Yolŋu ‘Manikay’ Song Performance, and the Australian Art Orchestra’s Crossing Roper Bar. Critical Studies in Improvisation, 9 (2). online. ISSN 1712-0624

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Abstract

This paper examines the place of creativity amid orthodox musical elements in the manikay (public song) tradition of the Yolŋu people of Northern Australia, particularly the song repertoire belonging to the Wägilak clan from Ŋilipidji. Beginning with the Yolŋu metaphor of raki (string) as it describes an individual’s historical constitution, an examination of productive ambiguities built into the rhythmic (bilma) and intervallic (dämbu) forms of manikay underpins the assertion that tradition speaks with living relevance through performed realisation and improvisation. The Australian Art Orchestra’s collaboration with Wägilak songmen, "Crossing Roper Bar," is introduced as a dramatic example of the manikay tradition working in and through contemporary expressions and contexts. This project sustains the ancestral bones of manikay, dutifully curated through the generations as an integral, orthodox framework with complex social, legal, and religious significances. Here, discursive musical conversation is central to a non-appropriative engagement with cultural difference and musical forms from the past.

Item Type: Published Articles
Repository Version: Published Version
Keywords: Improvisation, music, Aboriginal, ceremony, song, intercultural
Fields of Research: 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing > 190401 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Performing Arts
19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing > 190407 Music Performance
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950101 Music
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9503 Heritage > 950302 Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified
Type of Activity: Pure Basic Research
Subjects: A - Humanities, general
College/Association with University of Divinity: STC: Stirling Theological College
Depositing User: Dr Samuel Curkpatrick
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2019 22:32
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2019 22:32
URI: http://repository.divinity.edu.au/id/eprint/3423

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