The Making of the 2018 Milpirri Soundtrack

The Milpirri soundtrack is created in stages, a process that is led by musician Monkey Marc (Marc Peckham) and this year assisted by MC and lyricist Mantra (Rob Tremlett) and Tracks Animateur Kelly Beneforti. The final soundtrack features many voices from the community, from children as young as eight right up to prominent Lajamanu elders.


Delving into the themes with Jampijinpa and Jangala

The first stage involved extensive discussions with Steve Jampijinpa Patrick and his father Jerry Jangala Patrick to explore and refine the themes for the Milpirri performance. The themes for Milpirri 2018 are taken directly from the Jurntu ceremony, which is a Warlpiri ceremony that revolves around lessons of Law. Each ‘colour group’ deals with a different aspect of Law, appropriate to the kinship system from which the colour system has been derived.
Monkey captured this conversation for archival and documentation purposes, even though most of it doesn’t end up directly in the Milpirri soundtrack. Mantra used the information to create colour group summaries and voice-over scripts, which bring the often complex and layered ideas into a more succinct form that are appropriate for kids, and that non-Warlpiri people can grasp. 

Writing and recording with the kids

Monkey and Kelly then spent a week at Lajamanu school running music workshops to create the songs that the students will dance to in the Milpirri performance. For the kids, this is an opportunity to explore the Warlpiri themes and values that are found within Milpirri and involves them directly in the writing and recording of the soundtrack. It is magical to share in the delight that the kids get from hearing their own voices in the music.
Each class group worked on a song for one of the four colour groups. The students worked with Monkey and Kelly to come up with lyrics that reflect the particular aspect of the Jurntu ceremony that relates to that colour group. For Yellow group this is Respect; for Blue group it is Responsibility; for Red group it is Justice; and for Green group it is Discipline. See the images below for the song lyrics that were created with the students of Lajamanu School. 

Recording the voice-overs

The final stage in making the Milpirri music involved recording Steve Jampijinpa Patrick speaking the introductory and closing words for this year’s performance. Steve also recorded the dialogue that captures this year’s themes for each of the colour groups, which include explanations of the traditional female and male artefacts that represent those themes.
Marc and Kelly also found willing young men from the community, at least one from each of the colour groups, to record this dialogue so as to include many more voices in the soundtrack. In discussion with the women it was decided that for this Milpirri - based around the Jurntu ceremony of law and order – it was important to have men speaking about the themes, although women have their own significant role within the understanding, teaching, practicing and upholding of Warlpiri law. The men who were recorded are Roger Japaljarri Jurrah, Liam Jangala Patrick, Walter Jangala Wesley, Matthew Jakamarra Patterson, Shaun Japanangka Johnson, and Max Japanangka Gordon.
Finally, Steve’s father, Jerry Jangala Patrick, came into the recording ‘studio’ to assist with the difficult job of translating the colour group dialogue into Warlpiri, which took lengthy discussion, debate and collaboration between father and son.