Popular Music

Articles

Yothu Yindi's ‘Treaty’: ganma in music

Jill Stubington and Peter Dunbar-Hall

In north-east Arnhem Land languages, ganma is a word used to describe the place where the fresh water from a river meets the salt water of the sea. For the Yolngu, fresh water and salt water are significant opposites, and the turbulence and fertile potency of their meeting place is a powerful metaphor. The term is used in the Yirrkala community, especially in the school, to refer to the modern attempts to educate Yolngu children in ‘both ways’, that is the Yolngu way and the Balanda way. In this article, it refers to a musical text, the song ‘Treaty’ which, like ganma, represents a mixing of opposites.