A Warlpiri song cycle

Henry Cooke Anderson Jakamarra with Jerry Patrick Jangala, Steven Dixon Japanangka, Wanta Steven Patrick Pawu-Kurlpurlurnu Jampijinpa, Carmel O’Shannessy and Myfany Turpin

Regular price $80.00 Sale

Format: paperback
126 pages
ISBN: 9781743329481
DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.30722/sup.9781743329481
Publication: 01 May 2024
Series: Indigenous Music, Language and Performing Arts
Publisher: Sydney University Press

Also available from


Read a sample

Buy ebook: Google Play Kindle Apple Books Kobo ebooks.com

Yuupurnju: A Warlpiri song cycle documents a ceremonial song cycle situated within the traditional kurdiji “shield” ceremony, as sung by Warlpiri Elder Henry Cooke Anderson Jakamarra at Lajamanu, Northern Territory, in 2013.

The song cycle relates to a women’s Jukurrpa Dreaming narrative, and tells the story of a group of ancestral women on a journey across the country. Jakamarra performed the songs (recorded by Carmel O’Shannessy) to make them available to the Warlpiri community and the wider public.

Yuupurnju: A Warlpiri song cycle includes:

  • the words of the songs in Warlpiri
  • interpretation in English as given by the singer, Jakamarra, and Warlpiri Elders Jerry Patrick Jangala OAM, Wanta Steven Patrick Pawu-Kurlpurlurnu Jampijinpa and Steven Dixon Japanangka
  • musical notation by musicologist Myfany Turpin
  • photographs and illustrations for each song
  • a foreword by two senior custodians, Jerry Patrick Jangala OAM and Wanta Jampijinpa.

Carmel O’Shannessy is an Associate Professor at the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics, Australian National University. She was resident in Lajamanu community for four years (1998–2001), working to support the teaching and learning of Warlpiri and English in the bilingual education program in the school.

Myfany Turpin is an Australian Research Council fellow at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the University of Sydney.

Henry Cooke Anderson Jakamarra was a senior Warlpiri knowledge holder who lived in the Tanami Desert, maintaining and teaching traditional Warlpiri knowledges.

Jerry Patrick Jangala OAM is a senior Warlpiri Elder who lives in Lajamanu community with his family and is a central figure of knowledge and authority for both Warlpiri and non-Warlpiri people.

Steven Dixon Japanangka was a senior Warlpiri Elder who was involved in community programs such as those to prevent family violence. He lived in Lajamanu community with his family, and passed away in 2023.

Wanta Steven Patrick Pawu-Kurlpurlurnu Jampijinpa is a senior Warlpiri man. He was an ARC Discovery Indigenous Award Fellow at the Australian National University School of Music, 2012–2015. He lives in Lajamanu community with his family.

  • Preface
  • Forewords
  • List of contributors
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction to Warlpiri song cycles
  • Verses 1–38
  • Plates
  • References
  • Appendix 1: Correspondences between verses in the Yuupurnju and Karntakarnta song cycles
  • Appendix 2: Sequence of songs on the recordings

“Yuupurnju is not just some random song cycle, it is Law, it has specific directionality and intent, and there are people who hold that Law and take responsibility for the song very seriously. ... For the men who used to sing these songs and the women who understood them, so often their actual spoken words failed to express the reality of what exactly was essential; where the words failed it was always the song that achieved meaning. The singer through the song seemed to caress the country, the things to which the verses are attached.”

– John Bradley, Anthropological Forum


“Yuupurnju is a ceremony that we have in our homeland of Minamina, near the WA and NT border. It’s a ceremony we perform all night, men singing and women dancing. But when we are doing it, the focus is not on the learning. So back in our communities this book will help younger people learn. Extended families can always join in with these ceremonies. Jakamarra knew all these songs and the places of the song cycle. Yapa, listen to my kurdungurlu sing and explain the songs—the best education you will get is from our elders. You can read, listen, sing or dance along with the rhythm — it’s all here. Our elders will always be right there with us.”

— Robin Granites Japanangka, senior Warlpiri custodian


“Concerned about declining knowledge of the songs of the northern version of the Warlpiri male maturity rite, Henry Cooke Jakamarra asked Carmel O’Shannessy to record him singing the song-cycle. This beautifully illustrated and linguistically and musically meticulous text provides a fascinating glimpse into Warlpiri ceremonial life and is an important and long-lasting addition to the documentation of the riches of Warlpiri culture.”

— Emeritus Professor Nicholas Peterson


“The collaboration between the Warlpiri and non-Warlpiri co-authors to record and annotate 38 songs in the Yuupurnju series, sung by the late Henry Cooke, reveals a wonderful example of the brilliance of Warlpiri high culture that celebrates ancestors, Country and interpersonal relationships in poetry, song, dance and design. This work reflects the beauty of the songs and associated artistry that it brings to the reader and represents a treasure for Warlpiri people to carry forward.”

— Dr Mary Laughren


Format: paperback
Size: 254 × 178 mm
126 pages
1 figure, 16 colour illustrations, and 47 colour plates
Copyright: © 2024
ISBN: 9781743329481
Publication: 01 May 2024
Series: Indigenous Music, Language and Performing Arts