Alan Maralung

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Alan Maralung was an Australian aboriginal musician who fortunately was recorded several times during his life, providing important documentation of his musical traditions. In the process he created some…
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Alan Maralung was an Australian aboriginal musician who fortunately was recorded several times during his life, providing important documentation of his musical traditions. In the process he created some of the most enduring documents of a music and a culture that many find simply fascinating. His name, Maralung, was taken from the place where he was conceived, a few miles northeast of Barunga at a spot called Flying Fox Creek. Maralung had another identity as a painter named Barney, eventually nicknamed Barney Painter. He spoke two of the original native dialects, Ngalkbon and Jawoyn, and claimed to have received songs directly from two spirits or wahru. These messengers of song were Bunggridjbunggridj, a small shrike tit bird, and the ghost of a dead singer named Balandjirri. Maralung has also said that many years ago he conducted an exorcism of a young man, and in the process made contact with a spirit that would later appear every now and then with a new song for him, these appearances happening in dreams, but not limited to them. Maralung was a participant in many ceremonies as a young man, and in the 1961 field notes of anthropologist La Mont West there are references to performances by Barney Alan Maralung and his dance troupe somewhere west of Beswick Creek. Maralung made some of his first recordings around this time. In 1988 he made extensive recordings of songs from the Wangga genre for Folkways. By this time he had disbanded his ensemble and was often too unhealthy to give performances. The extended recording sessions were thus a rare event, mostly stimulated by the enthusiasm of producer and ethnomusicologist Allan Marett. After Maralung basically had stopped performing, he still was apparently receiving songs from his spirit friends. He is considered to have been one of the finest performers in his tradition.