Haunting Sounds of the Didgeridoo
Few sounds are quite as memorable as the haunting didgeridoo. The sound of this simple but unique wind instrument is virtually synonymous with the country of its origin – Australia. It is a traditional instrument that is still played by the natives of the country. However, its unique sounds have brought it world-wide fame and appreciation.
The didgeridoo is cylindrical in shape and fashioned from natural wood. The wood of choice is eucalyptus, which is indigenous to Australia, though other hardwoods can be used. Traditional makers of the instrument go about their search for a suitable branch by looking for one that has been hollowed out by termites to an appropriate degree. They will then cut it the appropriate length – usually about 1.2 meters – and shape and decorate the exterior before applying a beeswax mouthpiece which helps to seal around the lips and magnify the sound. Didgeridoos can measure between one to three meters and they can also be fashioned from bamboo or PVC piping, though the sound would obviously be somewhat different and the experience of playing the instrument would not be as authentic. Because the naturally shaped didgeridoo is made from trees, the base end is usually slightly wider than the mouth end and this helps to amplify the sound.
However, what makes the didgeridoo so popular is not its shape but its sound. The player puts his lips in the mouthpiece and then continuously vibrates them, while the pipe part of the instrument amplifies the sound. The result is the magical sound that is commonly associated with the country and with the aboriginal peoples who first created this unique instrument. A skilled player will use a specialized circular breathing technique to enable him to keep breathing and playing simultaneously. This, in turn, enables him to hold a particular note for as long as he wishes.
For the Aboriginal people of Australia, the didgeridoo is an integral part of life. It is used both as a solo instrument and as part of a group of instruments and may be used for religious or recreational purposes. It has been in use for at least 1500 years by the native people of this country and it continues to play an important role in their lives. It has also been found that playing the didgeridoo can help reduce snoring. So why not give this unique and simple instrument a try? You may well discover just how versatile it can be!