• Yawuru musician Stephen Pigram has created a musical piece with the Australian String Quartet, telling the story of his great-grandparents. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
In celebration of AusMusic Month, the Australian String Quartet have just added two new recordings to their growing digital release platform, including a piece called Walganyagarra Buru.
Emily Nicol

13 Nov 2020 - 12:51 PM  UPDATED 13 Nov 2020 - 12:51 PM

Coinciding with NAIDOC Week, Stephen Pigram's release Walganyagarra Buru tells the story of the meeting of his great-grandparents, sung in Yawuru, Broome Kriol and English. one of which is Yawuru musician Stephen Pigram's

Commissioned by the Klein Family Foundation in a project by composer Iain Grandage, the piece was recorded live at the Melbourne Recital Centre in 2019.

Pigram describes the piece as transportive and evocative of the lived experience of his family.

“Walganyagarra buru, which translates as "long time ago in country" in our Yawuru language "nganga" is a song in which I hoped would bring elements of storytelling in Traditional, kriol and English; and in the music - Folk, Country and Djabi melody." Pigram says.

"The powerful and beautiful string arrangement by Iain Grandage and the performance of the ASQ when we play it live takes me back to the late 1890's early 1900's when this story is set about the journey of my great grandmother Minybal Esther, moving off her traditional lands into the shanty pearling camps of Broome and meeting Santiago, the father of my grandmother Petronella, mimi, matriarch of a very large family in our buru today.” 

 The track opens in language framed by strings and acoustic guitar and builds in to a more driving pulse and brings in english lyrics, the story of Pigram's great grandmother being moved off ancestral lands, to pearling camps; 'they were still living in clans / she'd never seen a fence'.

Australian String Quartet's Stephen King said the two releases from his group are vastly different but of the same era.

“Our ASQ AusMusic Month is framed by a story from the 1800s from an ancient culture, and the first string quartet born in Australia during that same time. These releases celebrate the many varied stories that come from this country”.

Both tracks are now available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Youtube, Amazon Music, Tidal, Deezer and more.