The didgeridoo (or didgerid¨) is the antique wind instrument of Australian Aborigines. There are no reliable sources stating its exact age, but it could possibly go back to at least fifteen thousand years ago.
The name "didgeridoo" is generally used by non-Aborigines; in Australia, this instrument is indicated with at least fifty different names, according to the various peoples living in the Country: therefore one can run through djalupu, djubini, ganbag, gamalag, maluk, and up to yirago, yiraki, yidaky... Didgeridoo is not an aboriginal wordŚit is an onomatopaoeic term coined by early European settlers; its first known use by Herbert Basedow in 1926.
The didgeridoo is classified as a "labial reed airphone" musical instrument, it has a light conical hose shape of variable length (about a meter or a meter and a half, but can also reach two meters and a half). This instrument is made out of an eucalyptus branch (a plant widely diffused in the North of Australia); the branch is chosen among those whose inner part has been hollowed by termites. Firstly peeled, cleaned and accurately finished, the instrument is then decorated with traditional paintings of aboriginal mythology. In aboriginal tradition the didgeridoo is made by women but played exclusively by men, who use it not only as a wind instrument where they can blow and meanwhile utter words, sounds, noises, but also as a percussion instrument if hit with sticks or boomerangs.
Although made of wood, the didgeridoo is played by vibrating the lips like a brass instrument. The style in which it is played uses circular breathing to produce a continuous tone, and relies on rhythm rather than precise musical pitch for its interest. Any given didgeridoo, like an organ pipe, will have just one natural pitch; and can vary only very slightly from that pitch. As such the didgeridoo functions more like an unpitched percussion instrument than a melody instrument.