Community Talks! Vol. 1, ep. 26
The legend of the didgeridoo
This ancient instrument goes by many names, Yidaki, Magu to name just a few. However, it is most commonly known as the Didgeridoo or Didjeridu.
So, what is the story behind this strange and weird instrument? It is said to have been around for at least 1500 years according to the archaeological studies of rock art found in the Northern Territories of Australia.
According to legend or “Dreamtime stories” as it is known by the indigenous aboriginal peoples of Australia, there was once a great warrior by the name of Yidaki. He was out hunting, and he came upon a thick branch from a Eucalyptus tree laying on the ground. He picked it up and noticed he could see moonlight shining through the other end, but he could also see termites. He lifted it up to the heavens and blew, the termites flew into the sky and became the stars and the sound that echoed across the bush lands is what we all know to be the sound of the digeridoo today.
So how are they made?
Aboriginal people forage the bush to find a suitable branch to work on, you do this by knocking on a branch to hear if it is hollow. If yes, they cut it off the tree. They only take the dead wood. But most importantly, a small ceremony is performed to ask the ancient spirits of the tree for permission to take the branch.
Hot coals are often used to clear out any remaining debris from inside of the branch. Once they are satisfied with the length of the branch (This also determines the ton, A, B, C, D and E in music terms) they then proceed to decorate the outside, though many are left blank. Bee’s wax is placed on the mouth end to secure a tight fit when playing.
The Didgeridoo was not intended to be just a musical instrument but as a tool for the Aboriginal dreamtime storytelling, accompanied with song and dance in what is known as a Corroborree.
A Corroboree is a sacred ceremonial gathering of Australian Aboriginals, in order to reach out to the the Dreamtime through Song and dance but also to reconnect with nature and the spirits of their ancestors.
In popular culture, the Didgeridoo is most memorable from the Australian film “Crocodile Dundee”.
So why my interest in the world’s oldest wind Instrument, or Aerophone as some may call it?
Some may think it might be because of Australia being part of my father’s side, but it came about while watching an Indigenous performing group from Northern Australia, Arnhem Land called “The White Cockatoo Performing Group” who were visiting Stockholm, Sweden. Being mesmerized by the sound of the Didgeridoo I said to myself, I want to do that. So before even knowing how to play I ordered one from Australia and got straight into it. After a couple of weeks, I could play, though not to my family’s content 😉
So, if ever you are in the Stockholm, Sweden office, let me know and maybe you will also be mesmerized just I was then and still am today.
The White Cockatoo Performing Group.
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