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Mother Tongue

Sheet Music: Score

Mother Tongue : for viola duo / Yitzhak Yedid.

by Yitzhak Yedid (2020)


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Mother Tongue : for Viola Duo is a work that deals with the feeling of people whose Mother Tongue was subject to linguicide (language killing). The loss of a language is the death of a tradition and cultural heritage, and a world without traditions is like a tree without its roots.

Linguist Professor Ghi'ad Zuckermann writes that in Australia "Out of 330 Aboriginal languages, only 13 are alive and kicking today." And "Since colonisation, Indigenous Australian people have suffered the effects of wide-scale linguicide".

In writing this piece I was inspired in particular by Jenna Richards, who is a Barngarla Aboriginal woman of Port Lincoln, South Australia. Jenna is involved in a reclamation project reviving her stolen mother tongue. Jenna writes: "It is a story about my grandmother's mother tongue that was being stolen from her family through acts of genocide and linguicide and how now, that I am a mother myself, I alongside my community working towards reclaiming the language that was once considered sleeping". Jenna is bringing back her stolen mother tongue to her children so that they can keep it alive and surviving for future generations.

My three main motivations to compose Mother Tongue are: Ethical, Aesthetic and Utilitarian. In Ethical, I refer to the importance of collaborating with people who struggle to reclaim their linguicided mother tongue. I feel that my music could support the idea of righting the wrong of the past. In Aesthetic, I refer to the beauty of ancient languages and that our world would be a better place with diversity rather than with monolingual mindset. In Utilitarian, I refer to the fact that when people reclaim their heritage tongue, it improves their wellbeing as they feel empowered when reconnecting with their spirituality, cultural autonomy and intellectual sovereignty.

Mother Tongue is a personal musical response and in no way represents an Aboriginal perspective. This writing was approved by Jenna Richards from the Barngarla Language Advisory Committee (BLAC).

Published by: Australian Music Centre — 1 facsimile score (24p. -- A4 (portrait))

Difficulty: Advanced

Duration: 18 min.

Contents note:

I. Warna Yoolalyidi (Grieving, signs belly) -- II. Ngaidyara (Hunting Party) -- III. Ngaldi Ngoodarridhi (Grieving, Broken Liver) -- IV. Noornigidi (To Break the Neck of an Animal) -- V. Warna Gooridi (Belly Turning Around, Out of Rage).

Dedication note: To Stefanie Farrands
Commission info: Assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Includes program notes.

Typeset edition.

ISMN: 979-0-67315-142-0

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