Nyalgodi Scotty Martin
Traditional Songman of the Dreamtime
Possibly the most important cultural statement ever encompassed on an Australian compact disc. This is a spiritual musical journey providing living evidence of the direct relationship of indigenous people and the land.
Nyalgodi, or Scotty Martin, lives in the rugged and remote Kimberley region of West Australia where he was born some time around theSecond World War. Scotty Martin is his ‘whitefella’ or ‘armara’ (meaningnon-Ngarinyin tribe) name. He is the pre-eminent living composer in the contemporary world of the Ngarinyin, Wunambal and Worrorra peoples of the north Kimberley.
Nyalgodi Scotty Martin is a custodian of the law and culture of the Wandjina and the famous Gwion cave art. He also plays a leading role in his community as an elder and singer of Dreamtime lore and leads cultural ceremonies to maintain the ancestral ways.
The songs on this album were digitally recorded in May, 1999, by respected musicologist, Dr Linda Barwick, with the assitance of postgraduate musicology student, Sally Treloyn. The project was funded by the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australian Research Council with the support of Sydney University. Dr Barwick’s extensive and thoughtful notes accompany the disc in a booklet that gives life to the songs. We have also included some actuality on the disc where Scotty introduces some songs.
Nyalgodi Scotty Martin is currently the last composer of his people’s songs. The recorded Junbas are compositions by Scotty and brought to him in his country as a singer of his land. The songs first came to Scotty in his dreams as they have to every Ngarinyin songman since time immemorial.
Nyalgodi Scotty Martin is joined on the recordings by Maisie Jodba, Pansy Nulget, Daisy Carlton, Alec Julbudij, Donald Dolan, Paul Chapman, Dicky Tataya, Paddy Wama, Jesse Garawa, Dorothy Chapman and Morton Moore.
The songman says the Wandjina and Wunguud are not to be exploited and the senior Ngarinyin have decided to share aspects of their culture with outsiders to demonstrate its quality (once insensitively labelled as ‘savage’ and ‘primitive’’) thereby preventing its extinction at the hands of ignorance. Respect must be given to the fact that these songs are part of a chain that goes back some ten to forty thousand years and is received spiritually similarly to revelation.
The majority of songs on the recording are Junba, a short story-song and one of the main genres of public dance song indigenous to the Kimberley region. Dr Barwick explains: “A complete Junba performance is made up of a number of different songs, each of which represents a different dream. The words of each songtext encapsulate the dream experience, which is often centred around a particular place seen in the dream vision. From his dream experiences the composer forges the set of songtexts, each with its associated rhythm, and sets them to the characteristic melody, which provides the unifying theme through the whole performance. Repeating each songtext is an integral part of the Junba style, and through slight variations in the setting of the text to the melody in successive lines, the composer may demonstrate his art by drawing attention to the different aspects of the text or melody, rather like the virtuoso opera singer who varies the ornamentation when repeating a da capo Baroque aria.”
In terms of similar artists of a global nature the closest comparison would be the late Qawwali singer and tradition holder, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan of Pakistan. Just as Nusrat’s passionate celebration of traditional Sufi music inspired a new generation of listeners in his culture, as well as a whole new audience worldwide. Nyalgodi Scotty Martin hopes to do similarly for the benefit of ‘the land’.
Rouseabout Records Producer, Warren Fahey, views this collaboration with the Ngarinyin Aboriginal Corporation, Nyalgodi Scotty Martin and the record company as a unique opportunity to take this extraordinary music and spirituality to a worldwide audience and further a common goal of healing the world.