Wednesday, 13 May 2009


Walking through the centre of Exeter the other day I hardly expected to see and hear a Didgeridoo. But that's what there was! This man was blowing into the digeridoo and hitting it rapidly with what seemd like miniature castanets at the same time. The result was both musical and evocative of totally foreign parts.

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. The instrument is traditionally made from living Eucalyptus trees, which have had their interiors hollowed out by termites.

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. In some Aboriginal cultures, only men are permitted to play it, whereas women can only use clapsticks.

The earliest occurrences of the word "Didgeridoo" in print include a 1919 issue of Smith's Weekly where it was referred to as an "infernal didjerry" which "produced but one sound - (phonic) didjerry, didjerry, didjerry and so on ad infinitum".


  1. Great photos and post, S.S.
    I love the sound from this instrument. I don't think there is anything so hauntingly mystical and ancient---maybe the Native American flute. (It would be wonderful to hear a duet with the two...) ;^)
    Thank you,

  2. Nice photos, John; reminds me of an Aboriginal concert I attended many years ago in North Queensland -- that man could coax amazing sounds from the instrument. Later he brought on a piece of ordinary PVC drainpipe, which he played with great skill, to the enormous mirth of us tourists!

  3. Well, at least this chap was novel. Not many would be so brave as to introduce the Didgeridoo to people out shopping.
    Hope your own technical problems have ironed out!!
    Love Granny

  4. What an exciting sound to hear amongst the chaos of life. I like these. There is another fine, handmade, piping instrument commonly played (I think) in Mexico...their tiny little pipes connected and they sound so amazing. We are able to hear them at our State Fair every year (well...when we go). I want to buy one some day.

  5. I've never heard this instrument played, except on TV, but I just love to say the name.


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