Gunggari Maranoa Lullaby – a do pentatonic song

Last week one of my Doremi Teach: Piano teachers asked me for ideas of pieces in triple metre and I was reminded of this beautiful do pentatonic song from South West Queensland, Australia.

It was collected by H.O. Lethbridge and published in England in 1937 and you can see the original publication here.

However over the last few years we’ve learnt that it’s not acceptable to use a song that has been taken from a community without a deeper understanding of its history and whether it was published with consent.

Indeed, even the “translation” may bear little resemblance to the true meaning of the words. I don’t have any expertise in this area to say either way.

But what I did find was this lovely recording published on the ABC Indigenous YouTube channel featuring a Gunggari woman Ethel Munn and women from her community.

For decades Ethel had treasured this book of songs but had never heard it sung. No-one in her family could read music and she hadn’t asked – until this day! It’s enchanting.

You’ll also notice that they sing it in quadruple metre which, if you look at the score, seems in keeping with the ten. (tenuto*) marking above the final beat of each bar.

  • Can we use it in our classrooms?
  • If so, is it triple or is it quadruple metre?

I’ll let you decide. I love listening to it and I can’t stop watching Ethel and her community enjoy it.

* tenuto – hold for full length or sometimes longer

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