How can I play a didgeridoo

Didgeridoo - Everything about the Australian cult instrument

In addition to the boomerang, the Ayers Rock and the kangaroo, the didgeridoo is one of those archetypal things that we in Europe immediately associate with Australia. The didgeridoo is just one of the many musical instruments used by the Aborigines, but certainly the one with the most characteristic sound.


When the first didgeridoo was built - opinions differ. Rock paintings show that the tubular instrument was already in use 3000 years ago - the Aborigines themselves say that the instrument has existed for a much longer time.

It is believed that the didgeridoo was made in prehistoric times in northern Australia, in the so-called Arnhem Land was invented. The Aborigines used the long wind instrument mainly for ceremonial purposes and to accompany chants.

By the way, the name didgeridoo does not come from the Aborigines. The Aborigines have many names for the instrument, which, depending on the tribe and dialect, can be very different. This is the name of the didgeridoo in the Alice Springs Ilpirra region, while in Arnhem Land it is called Yirtakk.

The didgeridoo is traditionally made from a 1 - 2 meter long, hollow branch, usually made of eucalyptus. Eucalyptus wood is often hollowed out by termites, so that the instrument does not actually have to be built, but is already "ready" on the ground. Modern didgeridoos, however, are made by instrument makers and can be made of different types of wood such as bamboo, teak or eucalyptus, or are made industrially from fiberglass. The paintings are an important part of traditional didgeridooswhich originally also had a ceremonial meaning. Commercially produced instruments have of course largely lost this historical significance.

Learn to play the didgeridoo

Anyone who intends to learn to play a didgeridoo should be aware that it takes a lot of practice to master the instrument. As with all wind instruments, a large lung volume is of course an advantage, but the playing and breathing technique is different than with western wind instruments such as trumpet or saxophone.

In order to be able to elicit a sound from the didgeridoo, let alone a beautiful sound, you have to use the correct breathing technique. First, it is blown at with vibrating lips, so that a humming sound is created. The varied sounds that a didgeridoo can produce result from the interplay of lips, larynx, oral cavity, use of voice and breath.

The special breathing technique that is necessary to maintain a constant sound is called circular breathing: you breathe in evenly through your nose while the air is pushed out through your mouth at the same time. However, a lot of practice is required to master this technique.

The following tutorial can help:

Circular breathing is also taught in some music schools or special didgeridoo workshops. Especially those who want to learn to play the didgeridoo professionally will hardly be able to avoid such a course. You learn how versatile the tones and sounds of a didgeridoo can be through practice. The interaction of mouth and hands, the intensity of the air flow, the use of your own voice - all of this creates unique sounds that make the didgeridoo such a versatile and extraordinary instrument.

The following tutorials explain what is important:

 

The most beautiful didgeridoos are of course not bought, but built by yourself. Since a didgeridoo is basically just a simple tube, there are numerous handicraft instructions in which cardboard tubes or the like are used. Those who want to stay traditional would prefer to use a hollow branch about the size of an arm.

In this tutorial you can learn how to build a good and working didgeridoo yourself:

Industrially or handcrafted instruments are better suited if you want to play the didgeridoo professionally. Various online shops in the music sector are well sorted, you can definitely find something here. The Prices range from around 30 euros to a few hundred euros for an instrument. Most shops also sell accessories such as mouthpieces that make playing a lot easier, or cleaning accessories.

Some didgeridoo online shops at a glance:

Granted, it takes some time before you can play a didgeridoo really well. However, if you take this time and practice diligently, this unusual wind instrument is unexpectedly versatile and sounds beautiful.

In modern western music, the Digeridoo is often to be found in the New Age and ethno scene because of its unusual, sonorous sounds, but is also used in techno, trance and rock / pop / dance areas. In the meantime, classical music has also dealt with the Australian instrument and one can find numerous examples of interfaces between classical Western music and ethnic instruments such as the didgeridoo.

The Aboriginal rock band Yothu Yindi, who use digeridoos and other traditional instruments, even achieved global success in 1988 with the CD “Homeland Movement”!


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