Didgeridoo FAQs

Didjeridu making has grown exponentially over the past 15 years. Before the recent surge interest in the didgeridoo was restricted to Aborigines of the far north and some ethnomusicologists. Now didgeridoo’s are made all over Australia and increasingly overseas. In Indonesia didgeridoo’s are being made from bamboo and mechanically bored wood. In America and Spain the Agave cactus is hollowed for didgeridoo’s and Europe they are made from the swamp plant Bear Claw (it grows a hollow stem) and by hollowing out the centre of all kinds of European wood. Some didgeridoos by contemporary artists and made from non eucalyptus materials are excellent instruments.

The growth of didgeridoo playing demonstrates that people are more interested in didgeridoo’s as sound instruments and less as artifacts. Indeed there is an inevitability to this trend for contemporary didgeridoo. Traditional and authentic didgeridoo’s are made by Aborigines of Arnhem Land, Gulf of Carpenteria & The Kimberleys, from termite hollowed eucalyptus stems and painted with ochres in rarrk or x-ray style. If all the Arnhem Land artists were making didgeridoo’s they could not produce enough to satisfy demand. Arnhem Land Aborigines like didj master David Blanasi are aware of this, but their main concern is for the misrepresentation of their art that happens when didgeridoo’s are made elsewhere and sold as ‘Authentic Traditional Didjeridus.’

The rapid growth of didgeridoo making in Australia is causing environmental damage in some areas as eucalyptus didgeridoo’s are made from live trees, and only a few species in particular areas are suitable. Along the Stuart Highway north of Katherine N.T. the Yellow Woollybutt is becoming scarce, and the Salmon Gum has been declared a protected species as it has not only been a popular didj wood, but is the only nesting place of the endangered Gouldian Finch.

The quality of didgeridoo’s fluctuates. Didjeribones are definitely superior to the many didgeridoo’s on the market that are so carelessly made they are unplayable. The Didjeribone, however is carefully constructed to provide an excellent multi-tone sound that is consistent in quality.

Non-aboriginal didgeridoo players can experience discrimination in Australia due to entrenched prejudice against non-aboriginal didgeridoo players and other misunderstandings about traditions surrounding the didgeridoo.

Largely these prejudices are unfounded and have little to do with traditional custodians of the didgeridoo.

For further reading on this subject, here is a copy of the article ‘That didjeridu has sent them mad’ (with permission from Murray Garde) which states the views of custodians of traditional didjeriudu.

In this article, the custodians speak out against prejudices that inform the discriminatory attitudes prevalent throughout Australia where widespread didgeridoo playing and making is a relatively recent phenomena.

No it’s not taboo. This view is a misunderstanding. Read this article: ‘That didgeridoo has sent them mad’ (with permission from Murray Garde)

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