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Clarence Long (Milerum) songs : collected by Norman Tindale in 1932

by Becky Llewellyn (1998)

Work Overview

As part of my research for the chamber orchestra work, Milerum's Basket, I was privileged to have permission from the SA Museum to listen to tapes of Milerum (Clarence Long) singing to Norman Tindale in 1932 on Edison wax cylinders. I was not allowed to do more than make transcriptions of what I heard in the South Australian museum basement and to copy English translations which had been done in the 1940s by the Royal Geographic Society.

At the urging of my Ngarrindjeri friends, Major and Betty Sumner, I wrote these six songs out for them as songs which come directly from their heritage. Milerum was the last boy who escaped going to mission school. Clarence Long knew several of the Ngarrindjeri dialects and had hung out with the 'old people', remembering their culture and leaving this for posterity through the Tindale tapes.

I feel very humble to have worked on this music which reveals a deep musical culture of the Coorong indigenous. The rich food life meant they had time to sing, dance, gossip, share. I apologise if some Ngarrindjeri people are offended by the publication of these songs but many have welcomed and used them to grow their culture.

Work Details

Year: 1998

Instrumentation: Solo voice, unison voices.

Duration: 7 min.

Difficulty: Easy — Community.

Contents note: I. Milerum's collection: Hunting Song (magical song - Tanganekald) -- II. Widow Song (public opinion - Tanganekald) -- III. The Old Dog Song (public opinion - Meintank) -- IV. First Dream Song ("Pekere" Dream Song - Tanganekald) -- V. Whale Song, in my orchestral piece Milerum's Basket, (Magical - Totemic - Raminjeri) -- VI. Wati's Fight Song - Magical - Epic Song - Potaruwutj.

Commission note: Commissioned by Major Sumner for use with Ngarrindjeri dance troupe and with young people.

Loose transcriptions of songs recorded by Norman Tindale in 1932 on wax cylinders. They were sung by Milerum (Clarence Long) of the Ngarrindjeri people, Coorong, South Australia.


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