The best known of all Australian Aboriginal musical instruments is the didgeridoo. It is
- Possibly the world’s oldest musical instrument.
- A wind instrument originally found in Arnhem Land, Northern Australia.
- Is made from limbs and tree trunks hollowed out by termites (white ants).
- Is cut to an average length of 1.3 metres and cleaned out with a stick. or hot coals.
- Is used as an accompaniment to chants and songs.
- Produces a low-pitch, resonant sound with complex rhythmic patterns.
- In some tribal groups only played by men but in most groups by men, women and children.
- Traditionally various forms of the didjeridoo are found in Central Australia around Alice Springs.
- The Didgeridoo is the sound of Australia.
- If the earth had a voice it would be the sound of the Didgeridoo.
Traditionally, an Aboriginal would go into nature and listen intensely to animal sounds, not just voices but also the flapping of wings or the thump of feet on the ground. The Aborigine would also listen to the sounds of wind, thunder, trees creaking, and water running. The essences of all these sounds were played with as much accuracy as possible within the droning sound of the didjereedoo.
To play the didgeridoo, it is necessary to master circular breathing. It is a technique used by players of some wind instruments to produce a continuous tone without interruption. It is accomplished by breathing in through the nose while simultaneously pushing air out through the mouth using air stored in the cheeks.
On our return trip home from Darwin recently we stayed a couple of nights in Coober Pedy, the opal mining centre of Australia. Whilst there, we were surprised by an impromptu didgeridoo performance by Tommy Crow. It was a memorable experience.
Ivor, the Plumber/Poet, recently went to a concert in his home town. This is one of the videos he posted –
Steps for Peace
Peace cannot be kept by force;
it can only be achieved by understanding.