“A didgeridoo is a wind instrument invented by Aboriginals and is made from hollowed out Eucalyptus tree trunks or branches.”
First found in the Northern Territory’s Arnhem Land many years ago, the “didge”, didjeridu, didjiridu or didjerry, as traditionally known, is thought to be the world’s oldest instrument. The long pieces of wood used were first hollowed out naturally by termites, then cut with stone axes and made to perfection by the Indigenous. They used long sticks and hot coals to neaten up the inside of the flute-like instrument and then covered the mouthpiece with beeswax or gum.
They are generally between 1 – 1.5 metres in length and create a low pitch droning sound as the musicians crouch on the ground and blow into the hollow, sealing the top end with their lips. The traditional Aboriginals used these instruments to mimic the sounds of their surroundings, such as animals, the elements and all the sounds of nature.
The didge was a big part of ceremonies and celebrations and was often accompanied by song and dance. Body painting and head pieces helped set the mood and they often re-enacted stories of The Dreaming.
The Aboriginal people liked to paint their instruments, their pride and joy. The symbols were always of significance to them, representing the Dreamtime, other spiritual beliefs, animals and people.
Today these instruments are made more quickly and easily. Trees are tapped by hand to determine whether the trunk or limbs are hollow, a chainsaw is used to cut them, the inside is cleaned out by soaking in water, the outside is stripped with sharp knives, then the mouthpiece is cut correctly to produce the perfect pitch. It is then ready for painting.