While playing Didgeridoo, traditionally Aborigines mimic the sounds of their surroundings. These sounds can be mixed with droning to create rhythms, which is how the Didgeridoo is used as a rhythm wind instrument.
The Kangaroo Hop. Keep the drone going on the didgeridoo and quickly say the letter D. Tap the roof of your mouth with the tip of your tongue while you do it. Now, to create the sound of hopping just say "doing" while playing.
The Dog Bark and Growl. Keep the drone going and scream into the didgeridoo. A loud and startling sound should come out. Refine it by trying to imitate a deep growl and dog bark.
The Kookaburra is of the kingfisher family and considered the protector by Aboriginal people and is distinguished by its gurgling, laughter like call. Bird call is talking rather than singing in Aboriginal cultures, only humans can sing.
Listen to the actual kookaburra call. This sound file is provided by Will Campbell of the Los Angeles Zoo who waited 45 minutes to get this clip for us from a resident kookaburra! Thanks Will!
Once the drone is going on the didgeridoo try tightening and loosening your lips and moving your tongue into the letter E position slightly to change the pitch. If for example a didgeridoo is tuned to key of C you should be able to vary the key from C sharp to C flat with just lip pressure.
Try very quickly to expel the air in your mouth while playing the didgeridoo to make a popping noise. Try using your cheeks first then try the back of your tongue. Each will expel the air differently and change the sound.
The Tongue Roll. This is a bit more difficult to do and keep the droning going. Just roll an R like in Spanish with your tongue and do not let the drone stop. Are we having fun yet? If not, do not get stressed and keep at it, you will get it!
The Hornblast or Toot. First warn the neighbors! ;-) Very tightly press your lips together and blow hard (like playing a trumpet) into the didgeridoo. You should get a loud blast out the end. For an advanced technique try switching from droning to a quick hornblast and back to droning in your didgeridoo rhythms.
Key of A: Key of B:Key of C:Key of D:Key of E:Key of F:Key of G:
Video demo of the 6 most popular Didgeridoo keys:
A Story On How The Didgeridoo Came To Be...
Three men were camped out on a cold night in the outback. One of the men told another to put a log on the fire, because the fire was getting low and it was very cold. So, the other man turned and grabbed a log, which was awfully light to the touch, for it was hollow. As he went to drop it into the fire, he noticed the entire length was covered with termites. He did not know what to do, for he could not throw the branch into the fire, because it would kill the termites, and his friends were telling him to do so because it was so cold. So, he carefully removed all the termites from the outside of the log by scooping them into his hand, and he deposited them inside the hollow branch. Then he raised the branch to his lips and blew the termites into the air. The termites blown into the air became the stars, and the first Didgeridoo was created.
What is a Didgeridoo?
The didgeridoo is believed to be the worlds oldest wind instrument, dating back thousands of years. It originates as a musical instrument of the North Australian Aborigine.The didgeridoo is traditionally played accompanied with clap sticks and/or the clapping together of boomerangs in Corroborees (ceremonial dances). Players can also tap out rhythms on the side of the didgeridoo using fingers or sticks.A didgeridoo is traditionally made from one of many species of Eucalyptus branches or saplings. Species of Eucalyptus number in the hundreds but only about a dozen species are used for didgeridoo making. The Eucalyptus is naturally hollowed out by termites whose nests abound in the millions in Australia. It takes at least a year for the termites to hollow a tree out. Harvesting has to be timed so that the wall thickness of the instrument is not too thin or not too thick. It has to be "just right". Making for the perfect instrument!The varying length of the wood that is sawed off and its thickness and shape will determine which key the instrument will be in. Shorter lengths yield higher pitches where as longer lengths yield lower pitches. Didgeridoos generally range in keys from a high "G" to a low "A". A common "C" didgeridoo will be two octaves below middle "C" of a piano. The keys of C and D are the easiest keys to learn how to play on the didgeridoo. To hear the different keys click here.Bark is usually stripped from the outside and the termites removed. A rim of beeswax can then be applied to reduce the diameter of a large opening down to more playable sized aperture. About an inch and a quarter, similar to a tuba sized mouthpiece. Wax also creates a good airtight seal for the mouth and makes it more comfortable to play. The instrument can then be decorated with ochre paintings that symbolize a tribes food and/or totems.
Didgeridoo - How To Play
You don't have to pay for instructional materials on how to play the didgeridoo. You can learn for free with our instructions and sound clips. The technique of how to play the didgeridoo is unique among wood instruments. You blow down the tube with loose lips creating a vibration that echoes down the tube coming out amplified as a drone. Similar to a tuba but even looser and more relaxed. It is important to stay relaxed, trying too hard will tighten your muscles which contradicts the need to create loose lips and face. Buzz your lips while gently pushing air down the tube. The lip vibration is similar to giving someone a "raspberry". It can help to stick your bottom lip out a little more than the top lip. To improve the tonal quality of the drone it is important to try to tighten your lips a little after the drone is started, this will increase the pitch and really get the didgeridoo going! If you tighten up too much the drone will abruptly stop and you get a sound we call the "Blow Out". People often ask us how we can get a didge to play so loud and have such an eerie quality to the drone. The secret to a good drone is starting loose and tightening up the lips until you almost Blow Out. If you ride the fine line of playing tightly with almost doing a "Blow Out" you can achieve a loud and intense drone. Getting a good drone is critical because the other noises you make while playing a didgeridoo happen while the drone is going. It takes most people a bit of practice to be able to drone so don't get frustrated and practice, practice, practice. But, you shouldn't really think of it as practice because this instrument is fun to learn! Now try to drone as long as possible with one breath. While learning you will waste a lot of air discovering how to make the noise. As soon as possible start limiting the amount of air you use up. You only need enough air to vibrate the lips, this is what creates the noise. The toughest part of didgeridoo playing is learning to circular breathe. Circular breathing allows a player to be able to continually blow air down the didgeridoo without ever stopping for breath.
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