Mr Samuel Curkpatrick

PhD scholar

BMus with Honours (Monash University)

Topic or working title

‘Conversing tradition: Wägilak manikay and the Australian Art Orchestra's Crossing Roper Bar

Abstract or summary

Sam's research is an exploration of tradition as event in the present, realised through the dynamic expressions of manikay song (a public style from Arnhem Land) within contemporary contexts, particularly the collaboration between Wägilak songmen from Ngukurr and the Australian Art Orchestra known as Crossing Roper Bar. Key themes include: Yolŋu song, dance, narrative and law; hermeneutics of tradition; cross-cultural engagement; cultural change and heritage.

Panel members and positions

Primary Supervisor and Panel Chair:
Professor Mick Dodson, Director of NCIS and Professor at the ANU College of Law.


  • Associate Professor Aaron Corn, ARC Future Fellow and Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology, and Music Chair of Research, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Dr Frances Morphy, Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences.


Sam comes from a background of classical clarinet performance, and has played principal roles in the Australian Youth Orchestra and at the Australian National Academy of Music, as well as performing with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria and Victorian Opera. He enjoys teaching and lecturing, and is currently working as an assistant curator at the National Museum of Australia.


Curkpatrick, S. (2013) 'Yothu Yindi and the Yolngu culture: dreaming of a brighter day.' The Conversation.

Updated:  1 May 2015/ Responsible Officer:  NCIS Project Coordinator/ Page Contact:  NCIS Administrative Officer