new old music
April 22, 2008 4:34 PM   Subscribe

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu doesn't speak much, but when he takes up his guitar, he sings, literally and figuratively. He sings of growing up in an Aboriginal community on a remote island off the north coast of Australia; he sings of coming to terms with being born blind; and he sings the creation stories of his Yolngu people.
posted by dhruva (19 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
he plays the guitar upside down, as he didn't have access to a left-handed guitar when he was growing up.

what *beautiful* songs on that myspace page.

thanks, dhruva! what a lovely find.
posted by CitizenD at 4:46 PM on April 22, 2008

Awesome - thanks for the post dhruva!
posted by goo at 4:57 PM on April 22, 2008

Yunupingu is from the Gumatj clan of the Yolngu on Elcho Island, off the north coast of Australia some 560 kilometers, or 350 miles, from Darwin, the nearest big city on the mainland.

Awesome! That makes him a relative of mine!
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:22 PM on April 22, 2008

wow. truly inspiring. what a voice.
posted by gnutron at 5:29 PM on April 22, 2008

wow - beautiful music!

*cd ordered*
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:35 PM on April 22, 2008

This is great. I want this comment to express how much I like it and how great it is; I want to go on at length about it but words just fail me. Excellent post. Thanks dhruva!
posted by Effigy2000 at 6:19 PM on April 22, 2008

dhruva, a wonderful find. "Gurrumul" is also available from iTunes.

Oliver Sachs' most recent book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain has a fascinating chapter on the special musical talents of the blind. It is suggested that the large area of the brain which is usually devoted to the processing of visual stimuli and information is utilized for sound processing in the blind and, especially in those born blind, is the seat of enormous potential musical talents, e.g., Doc Watson, Blind Blake, Art Tatum, George Shearing, Jose Feliciano, etc. It would appear that Mr. Yunupingu falls into this gifted clan.

For anyone interested in the brain and music, "Musicophilia" is a must read from an especially humane and learned author.
posted by rdone at 6:20 PM on April 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

Thank you thank you thank you. Awesome post!
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:34 PM on April 22, 2008

How great that this Aborigine artist is seeing such success in Australia (and the world). Thanks for the post, dhruva.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:08 PM on April 22, 2008

Yes, although I'm confused about what it means to "sing, literally and figuratively" - could you figuratively enlighten me, dhruva?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:13 PM on April 22, 2008

I'm guessing that the author of the article (who is not me) intended to emphasize the 'not speaking much' aspect of GGY's personality? I don't know...ask your cousin.
posted by dhruva at 8:31 PM on April 22, 2008

Stunning! I didn't expect that voice- it floored me. Thankyouthankyou- you've opened a new door for me!
posted by drhydro at 8:38 PM on April 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

oh, you quoted it?

(i was actually only trying to find *some* way to link to that dinosaur comic)
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:53 PM on April 22, 2008

sold. bought his cd, and one from his previous band, saltwater band. sings to something ancient... thanks for the info.
posted by jcworth at 9:37 PM on April 22, 2008

I don't know...ask your cousin.

posted by Wolof at 11:43 PM on April 22, 2008

problem is, i don't know if he's my cousin unless i know his skin, and that info's not provided. he might be my grandfather, uncle, father, brother, son, nephew or grandson from the information to hand.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:37 AM on April 23, 2008

I could tell you his skin, Ubu, as I think it's in the liner notes of the CD. I bought it as a going away gift for myself upon leaving Darwin. Unfortunately, that CD is somewhere in a shipping container on its way to Hobart, so I won't be able to help you today. The CD is, I might say, mesmerizing.
posted by Jimbob at 12:53 AM on April 23, 2008

Thanks, Jimbob, but I'll be heading in to the office to check my PO box on Anzac Day, hoping to find the CD, so I should know soon.

I have a feeling that my sister has Saltwater Band music, which would make sense, considering the Galiwinku connection.

I assume you've moved to Hobart then...? (rhetorical)

Also, like, mesmeriSing, dude! W'all aren't *completely* Americanised yet, insh'allah.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:01 AM on April 23, 2008

(i meant, al hamdu l'illah)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:22 AM on April 23, 2008

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