What is a didgeridoo made of

Didgeridoo: Aboriginal & the worldwide popular wind instrument

The Didgeridoo is Australia's most typical musical instrument and owes its origin to the Aborigines. When the didgeridoo actually existed has not yet been clarified. In any case, it is certain that it was immortalized on various rock paintings a good 2,500 - 3,000 years ago. But whether it has existed for 40,000 years, as some Aborigines claim, remains to be seen.


Interesting facts

It is believed that the didgeridoo originated in northern Australia, in the so-called Arnhem Land. Here the wind instrument is used both for making music together and for ceremonial purposes. Usually it is only used to accompany chants and is therefore rarely used as a solo instrument. It finally came into contact with Western culture for the first time at the beginning of the 20th century. This led to it being known all over Australia as early as 1950. Nowadays the didgeridoo enjoys great popularity all over the world and is often used by multicultural bands as an "exotic instrument" that shapes the rhythm and bass. Therefore it has found a permanent place in the instrument range of many modern bands of the pop, rock and techno genre.


Manufacturing & properties

The didgeridoo is usually made from a 1 - 2.50 meter long eucalyptus trunk that has been hollowed out by termites. The mouthpiece is coated with wax to protect the lips from injuries when playing. After the instrument was ready for use, it was then painted in certain ceremonies. Today, the paintings on commercial instruments often deviate from their much simpler origin. As with most Aboriginal art, traditional painting has a specific story directly related to it. Traditionally, the didgeridoo is played squatting or sitting. The end of the long instrument lies on the floor.


How to play the didgeridoo

In order to be able to extract an aesthetic tone from the didgeridoo at all, it is carefully blown on with vibrating lips. Several parameters are important for the perfection of the playing style. For example, lip control, the narrowing of the oral cavity, the use of the voice, the movement of the larynx, the change in the bladder pressure, speech-like articulations and the particularly important permanent breathing. This special breathing technique is characterized by the fact that the fundamental tone can be kept permanently through constant circular breathing. This works because it is possible to bring an uninterrupted flow of air into the didgeridoo with your mouth and inhale through your nose at the same time. In order to master this technique, however, specific practice is necessary.

By the way: Nowadays, learning the right way of playing is often offered in specialized workshops under professional guidance. It is also very interesting that playing the didgeridoo is even recommended for therapeutic purposes. Particularly in the case of diseases of the respiratory tract (e.g. respiratory noea, chronic bronchitis, mucuviscidosis, etc.) it is possible to achieve considerable improvements in the state of health through targeted training.


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