What is a didgeridoo ?

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A didgeridoo is a musical instrument that comes from the Australian Aborigines. It is considered as the oldest wind instrument in the world.

Uh sorry? A what…?!

As a didgeridoo player, I am often faced with this kind of reaction. So we learn to speak slowly and articulate carefully: a did-ge-ri-doo. At this point, faces start to lighten up, but they still remain doubtful. It is true that the didgeridoo has not (yet!) reached the worldwide reputation of the violin or the guitar. Yet, this simple “piece of wood” that comes from the Australian Aborigines has many things to say. So what does it look like? What is it ? And how does one play it? For those of you, who have so many important questions, he are finally some answers to enlighten you.

No more no less than a wooden tube

Initially, a didgeridoo is an eucalyptus trunk naturally dug by termites. However, a didgeridoo is a tube and only a tube! As long as the piece of wood measures between 1m20 and 1m80, any tube will do: a PVC vacuum hose (favor a new vacuum cleaner!) or an assembly of toilet paper rolls… A tube … I tell you, nothing more ! Well … of course all these ‘instruments’ will sound more or less good, as you can imagine … And it’s no coincidence if some people have specialized themselves in Didgeridoo manufacturing: creating a good instrument requires real expertise. So for didgeridoo manufacturers who work with eucalyptus, the issue is to choose the right eucalyptus trunks to make the best instrument with the less changes possibles … We therefore let nature shape our instrument, and our mission is to make music with it. What a beautiful perspective, is not it ?

A musical instrument

Yes, but not quite like the others ! Indeed, the didgeridoo has the particularity of only letting out a single note. Didgeridoos in E, in C, in D therefore exist. Thus, unlike the violin, for example, where the musician varies his notes, the didgeridoo player only uses a single note to extract the natural harmonics, which makes it very similar to jaw harp and overtone singing.
Let’s say it again : didgeridoo is a mono-tone instrument … But it will reveal many surprises to who will take the time to listen.

A video clip from my album “Renaissance”

Conclusion : an extraordinary instrument

Its history, its manufacturing and its technique makes didgeridoo to be a fascinating instrument with unbeatable originality! That is what attracted me when I started playing. At that time, I was looking to learn to play an original instrument and I was not disappointed!

And you ? Why are you interested in didgeridoo? What attracts you in this instrument? Or why do you play it? Share your experiences!
About the Author

Gauthier Aubé

Hi ! My name is Gauthier Aubé and I’m passionate about the didgeridoo. I started playing at the end of 2001. And with time, didgeridoo has become my profession. A real stroke of luck! Since then, I’ve released two albums, written a book about how to play the didgeridoo and invented the card game Wakatoo, which helps players to create their own rhythms on the didgeridoo. Enjoy your reading !

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