Dr Philip Matthias


This research project centres on the revitalisation of Indigenous language through the creation of original lyrics and song. The Yanaya project consists of a projected collection of 12 ‘poems’, based on story, language, and contemporary issues of identity for Indigenous people, and the importance of country for all Australians.

Written in the Gamilaraay language, Yanaya means to ‘return’. David Leha is a Gamilaroi man writing in his mother’s language, the first to do so in his family for the past four generations. These pieces are about returning to culture and returning to self. The language research is guided by elders in Tamworth, who translate and guide the lyric writing processes with Leha.

The music is based on melodic and rhythmic fragments created by Leha. Matthias, preserving the elements of the original fragments, expands the soundscape and musical language with both instrumental and vocal arrangements, through a collaborative process which respects the freedom of the musical fragments, whilst creating contemporary musical styles.

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