Learn about the Didgeridoo

Learn about the Didgeridoo

A didgeridoo (or didjeridu - the Macquarie dictionary shows both spellings) is essentially a pipe which, when blown through in a particular manner, produces a wonderful droning sound. Aborigines have perfected the art of playing this instrument to such a degree that they can play elaborate tunes and can produce amazing sound effects.

The didgeridoo is a sapling that has been hollowed out by white ants. After locating a suitable selection of saplings in the bush, they are cut down and sorted for suitability - they must be of reasonable length, and the ‘pipe' through the middle needs to be open enough to allow good airflow, without being too large. There can be no holes along its length.

Once selected, the didgeridoos are trimmed and sanded as needed, and then painted.

All our didgeridoos are hand painted by aborigines. The standard of artwork can affect the price. The length, shape and amount of work needed, can also affect the price.

Some didgeridoos have beeswax on the rim at the top. This is to help provide a good seal between the mouth and the didgeridoo. It is not essential, and many experienced players do not use it.

WOMEN AND DIDGERIDOOS

Apparently, some aboriginal tribes believe that women should not play the didgeridoo. It was, for them, a sacred instrument for corroborees and other private ‘men's business'. (In fact, we have been told that some believe that a woman may not even touch a didgeridoo.) Nowadays this is not a strong issue, and didgeridoos are often played by women just as well as men.

PLAYING

It is a special talent to be able to play a didgeridoo, but can be learnt with perseverance. We do stock a book which explains quite well how to play the didgeridoo.

Good players use a technique known as ‘circular breathing'. This involves holding air in the cheeks, then blowing it out through the didgeridoo while breathing in through the nose.