Timtumili Minanya

Timtumili Minanya

Composed by James Henry
Based on lyrics from Theresa Sainty

Commissioned by the Derwent Valley Concert Band

For some time, we in the band have been looking for music to play which relates to Aboriginal people and culture. We discovered that while much music has been commissioned/composed for our Australian orchestras and choirs, there is virtually nothing at all from Aboriginal composers in the wind band lexicon. We felt it to be time that this situation was remedied.

With assistance from ANU Associate Professor, Christopher Sainsbury, and to celebrate our 30th anniversary, we made contact with composer, James Henry and offered him the opportunity to create a brand new piece for concert band. The brief: the work was to reflect lutruwita/Tasmania and, in particular, its wilderness, rivers and forests.

Timtumili Minanya , is the resulting piece and the first major work for concert band ever written by an Australian Aboriginal composer.

Based on words by Palawa woman, Theresa Sainty, this three movement work follows the course of the Derwent River from the high mountain country in the west (withikitha milaythina), flowing on through wulawili/New Norfolk where it first encounters the saltwater from the east brought in by the tides, then down to and beyond kunanyi ‘standing strong behind nipaluna’/Hobart, to eventually make its way out to the sea.

The Palawa language, palawa kani, through the poetry of Theresa Sainty provided the rhythm patterns and the melodic lines and the land itself provided the musical inspiration and structure.

“… I wanted to have the music feel as though it was moving through Country like the bends in the river, by passing through chords and keys and being through-composed at times to represent the ever changing landscape. I wanted to capture the grandeur of the giant Regnans through powerful chords from the brass in and amongst the fine detail of the lush undergrowth which is represented by the mallets and woodwinds.”  (James Henry).


Timtumili Minanya

words of Theresa Sainty
withikitha milaythina truwala-ti From high mountain country
timtumili ngayapi laymina timtumili minanya is born from a lake
milaythina minanya lakarana in the country of the big rivers
nara wungana munanina and she winds her way through the mist;
minanya wulya minanya pama as four rivers become one
minanya laykara through milaythina Linawini ; wulawili (New Norfolk) The river runs through Linawini Country; wulawili
layna muylatina muka Freshwater embraces saltwater
makuminya Linawina Ngini; makuminya raytji Tracks of the Old People are now white people’s roads
ninga Linawina lukrapina raytji Linawini canoes are now white people’s boats
kunanyi takamuna rrala lunta nipaluna kunanyi stands strong behind nipaluna
tiyuratina ningina nipakawa lakarana and the southern wind whips the waves
mitungkana nguna; mitungkana nguna kamiya kipli Muwinina Nigini that tumble down onto the sand; tumble down onto the sands that hide feasts of the Old People – the Muwinina
kamiya nguna paywuta hidden in the sands of time
makuminya Pakana Ngini makara milaythina minanya-ti; milaythina-ti The footprints of our Ancestors still remain in river country; and country
paliti-nara makara lumi; milaythina-ti; takila-ti Their spirit will always be here; in country; and in our hearts
waranta taymi tunapri nara-mapali We will never forget them