Friday, December 26, 2008
Can you Didgeridoo?
With a new Didgeridoo for Christmas, Doryman may soon rival this gentleman's musical multitasking!
The didgeridoo (also known as a didjeridu or didge) is a wind instrument of the Aborigines of northern Australia. It is sometimes described as a natural wooden trumpet or "drone pipe". Musicologists classify it as an aerophone. Traditionally this instrument was made by selecting a section of Eucalyptus "Gumtree" branch, which was then buried near a termite mound. The termites, over a period of time, would eat out the heartwood, leaving the undigestable and resinous outer layer of the branch behind. The rejected "tube" branch was then given a resin ring at the embouchure and a final finish, then painted with special Shamanic totem animals that could move between "worlds"; for example, a frog can move between the land and the water and a lizard moves between the surface and the underground.
A modern didgeridoo is usually cylindrical or conical in shape and can measure anywhere from 1 to 3 m (3.2 ft to 9.8 ft) in length with most instruments measuring around 1.2 metres (3.9 ft). The length is directly related to the 1/2 sound wavelength of the keynote. Generally, the longer the instrument, the lower the pitch or key of the instrument. Keys from D to F♯ are the preferred pitch of traditional Aboriginal players.
There are no reliable sources stating the didgeridoo's exact age, though it is commonly claimed to be the world's oldest wind instrument. Archaeological studies of rock art in Northern Australia suggests that the Aboriginal people of the Kakadu region of the Northern Territory have been using the didgeridoo for about 1500 years, based on the dating of paintings on cave walls and shelters from this period. A clear rock painting in Ginga Wardelirrhmeng from the freshwater period (1500 years ago until the present) shows a didgeridoo player and two songmen.
And, if you're curious, check this out: