“Respect others; they are on their own path of experience.”
The didgeridoo, also called a Yidaki, is a primitive instrument dating back 40 thousand years. It is created and played by the aborigines of northern Australia. The didgeridoo is typically made from the stringy bark or woolleybutt eucalyptus sapling, and hollowed naturally by termites or white ants. The instrument is used to accompany singing and dancing primarily in ‘open’ non-secret ceremonies, such as those used for sunsets, funerals, camp entertainment and children’s songs.
The history of primitive instruments such as the didgeridoo is based on the tribal need for ‘medicine man’ or shaman. The healer of any clan or community uses different instruments as a tool to help take members of the community away from the ordinary occurrences of everyday life. The ‘other world’ or eerie sounds of their instruments were used in ceremonies and rites of passage. Didgeridoos, drums, conch shells, bull-roarers, bells and most musical instruments create the space for people to drop out of their normal patterns of life and indulge their spirits to wander.
How is its unique sound created? Technically, the soft fluttering of a person’s lip plays the didgeridoo accompanied by two other levels of self generated sound. Much like the trumpet, your air-stream passes through your vibrating lips to create truly unique, sometimes mystical sounds. I hope you find as much calmness and vision as I do when you play, and that you will peacefully play with the rhythm and tone of the planet.
In Australia, didgeridoos are priced according to their resonance. A didge is valued for its sound and its beauty. The singular hand painted didgeridoos were produced for the art or souvenir market until the recent advent of world music, which has created a demand for these very powerful instruments.
Traditionally the Aborigines play ceremonially. People usually play the didgeridoo by itself; it sometimes is accompanied with other rhythm instruments such as clap sticks, shakers, boomerangs or singing. You can play more than one didgeridoo at a time and if the keynotes are complimentary that is great. Each didgeridoo is like a fingerprint, no two didgeridoos sound completely alike. The cavernous inners of a didgeridoo keep the sounds unique.
Australia is the only continent where a membrane percussion instrument, meaning drums, was never developed. The didgeridoo is considered a percussion instrument because of its drone tone and the way it has been used historically. Some history books show the traditional Aborigines seated with a didgeridoo and clap sticks and other wood type instruments for percussion.