Museumofworldmusic.com

Australia

Instruments

Name: Didgeridoo or Yirdaki,

Type: Long Horn > Aerophones.

Region: Australia > Oceania.

Dimensions: Length

Acquisition Date: 1st specimen acquired in 1999 / 2nd specimen acquired on 2007.08.05 Sunday.

Acquisition Source: WOMAD Seattle USA > 2nd specimen was a Gift.

Description: The didgeridoo is classified as a long horn and a member of the aerophone family of musical instruments. The name didgeridoo is an onomatopoeic word coined by the settlers who arrived in the 1770s. Amongst the Anindilyakwa tribe the name “yirdaki” is applied to the didgeridoo. There are 13 known tribal names and 45 known synomyms for the didgeridoo. Documented evidence featured in the rock art in the Kadaku region of Northern Australia have been dated back to 1500 years. In Aboriginal society the didgeridoo is traditionally played by men. Ceremonies or (Corroborees) maybe performed in secret or in public. Publicly held ceremonies were traditionally held at night, in front of a mixed audience including men, women and children. Initiation rights including those of a male crossing from adolescence to adulthood. Performing the didgeridoo in a non-ceremonial manner is considered invalid under dreaming law.

Playing Techniques:
In performing the didgeridoo it is held usually sitting down in a cross legged position. The mouth does not completely cover the didgeridoos mouthpiece however it is loose when coming into contact with the mouthpiece, this allows the musician to perform a constant bubbling sound. Circular breathing is a major component in achieving the long delayed tones this instrument is known for. According to research done in Australia the over tones and under tone pitches are achieved by the vocal chords in play in conjunction with the musician having his lips loose. Clap sticks are hand carved from branches selected for the accompaniment while playing the didgeridoo. In performance a pair of boomerangs (weapons) when clapped together in accompaniment to the didgeridoo are used as percussion instruments. Many didgeridoo makers now prefer less or no paint on their instrument in which an aboriginal artist or other artist may paint their own design if they decided to do so.

Didgeridoo in Modern Use:
The didgiphone is a pitch adjustable instrument by moving the main mouth piece up or down by extending the length of the tubing can increase or decrease the pitch of the didgiphone. Didgeridoo's in mass production is made made from many different materials including plastic, leather, glass, yucca, bamboo. They are found everywhere from Sydney to Cairn, Darwin, Melbourne. Since the didgeridoo became popular in the global sense this has eliminated much of the traditional taboos concerning the didgeridoo. Many musicians who are environmentally aware build their own custom didgeridoos from recycled PVS or ABS pipe. Many modifications, improvements, enhancements of the didgeridoo go under many different names and physical appearance including spiral didgeridoos who are designed for traveller in mind.

Anatomy of the Didgeridoo:
Traditionally the didgeridoo is made from the branches of Eucalyptus obliqua trees. When the didgeridoo is being constructed the fallen branch of a Eucalyptus tree is buried underground, this encourages the termites to chew through the centre of the wood. After the termites complete the process the didgeridoo is then removed from the ground and hollowed out through the whole branch. Then the bark of the branch is removed, the process of carving and sanding the instrument is followed. Near the completion of the instrument beeswax is applied to the rim of the mouth piece to ease the playing of the didgeridoo. The estimated length of the didgeridoo can range from 1 to 3 metres. The internal diameter of the mouthpiece ranges from 3 centimetres or wider. The body of the didgeridoo is cylindrical and slightly conical in shape.
Citations: Journey in Time, George Chaloupka, p. 189 > Online Resources > asza.com (didgeridoo) > Didgeridoo Tutorial by Timeless Productions > Australian Didgeridoo Cultural Club > Aboriginal Art.com.au -Ceremonies > Making a Yirdaki in Arnhemland(with pictures).