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Didjeridu History

The origin of the Didjeridu is not accurately known, though some research indicates it's birth may have been as recent as one thousand years ago (World Archaeology-vol 12, no 3, Alice Moyle). Traditionally, it comes from the north of Australia and is played by males. It is not normally used as a solo instrument, but rather accompanies clicking sticks, singing and dancing. It is used primarily, but not exclusively, in "more open" ceremonies, clan songs and fun songs. Boys learn to play the Didjeridu from an early age, the most efficient player is recognized and held in high esteem. The player may tap out rhythms using click sticks or his fingers on the instrument while playing.

Increasingly, Didjeridus are included in music groups, rock bands, orchestras and in a solo capacity as atmosphere creators for seminars and workshops. The haunting music of a solo Didjeridu touches people's hearts and calls to remembrance our spiritual and earthly heritage.

- Alistair Black

Ed Drury contributes this information

In 1835 a man named T.B. Wilson describes an aboriginal man playing an instrument called the eboro in Raffles Bay on the Coburg Peninsula. It was described as being made of bamboo and about three feet in length. The earliest references to the instrument all occur in the later part of the last century. The hard wood instruments particular to Arnhem Land (yidakis) are usually of "Stringy Bark" and 'woolybutt' in the North and Red River Gum further south near Katherine. There is also documentation of didjeridus made of palm even further south. By the time anthropologist Alice Moyle was publishing her field work in the mid 1970s, aboriginal groups where using found pipes such as land rover tailpipes and water pipes as didjeridus.

Pictures of male figures holding didjeridu like instruments to their mouths have been found in cave paintings discovered during expeditions during the late 1940's. Rings on the instruments pictured in the cave drawings suggested nodes of bamboo. Further suggesting an instrument constructed of light weight material, the players are shown using a one hand grip while playing. While there is some published evidence that the didjeridu made it's appearance in Australia within the past 1,000 years, the aboriginals themselves trace it's history back much further. All the way back to the Dreamtime, the primordial time of the creative ancestors who created this reality.


Last updated:11/02/07    tt-lp

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