Belle Mama – A Song from the Torres Strait Islands

Bella Mama is a song we received from the Torres Strait Islands. The islands are north of Australia and south of Papua New Guinea.

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The lyrics to Belle Mama are very simple:

Belle Mama

Belle mama
Belle mama eh
Belle mama
Belle mama eh
Belle mama
Belle mama
Belle mama
Belle mama
Belle mama
Belle mama eh

Midi Tune of Belle Mama

Here’s the score:

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You can hear the song sung here…

We’re not sure what language this song is in.  It would seem that Belle Mama means "Beautiful Mama", but it doesn’t fit in the with languages in that part of the world. 

If anyone can help identify the language of Belle Mama and/or provide a translation, please comment below.

Many thanks to Mary-Anne for sending us the sheet music to Belle Mama and to Monique Palomares for the midi tune.  Monique works with me on the French and Spanish versions of Mama Lisa’s World.

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2011 at 11:13 am and is filed under Australia, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, Questions, Torres Strait Islands, YouTube. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 Responses to “Belle Mama – A Song from the Torres Strait Islands”

  1. Pete Says:

    Search for Bele (sic) Mama and you will pull up results indicating an African origin. You can find it on Amazon and Spotify. It means ‘call mama’.

  2. Jess Says:

    Bella mamma is Italian for beautiful mother

  3. Lotte Reimer Says:

    Call Mama – from West Africa
    or
    in Swahili: Mbele Mama – long time ago, mama

  4. Sebastian Says:

    @ the language – searching in the web makes the african origin more probable, many groups sing “mbele mama”. The score doesn’t represent the song in your youtube sample, where the even 2/2 measure is used. I didn’t find any sample for this song in the 3/4 time, so maybe it should be replaced.

  5. tina filippino Says:

    The song seems to be sourced from both the Torres Straight and places in Africa. Some speculate that the song was brought by missionairies or traders and spread that way, as the words do not match the language in any of the locations.
    I will send you a link to a recording in Africa in the next email.

  6. Lisa Says:

    Thank you Tina!

  7. tina filippino Says:

    Here is the link to the Belle Mama track.

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