Didgeridoo singing to spirits

Whenever I hear a didgeridoo it takes me somewhere special. I feel a deep connection to this world when I hear the mesmerising sound of it. I remember when I was travelling back from Russia via Vienna, Austria (not Australia). I remember walking and hearing it and just drawn like a magnet. I was amazed to hear this instrument in a country like Austria, but I guess our world is getting smaller.

Whenever I see the indigenous men playing it I feel a deep spiritual connection and it brings joy. So whatever the magic is there, it is real I feel.

Courtesy of wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didgeridoo

The didgeridoo (also known as a didjeridu or didge) is a wind instrument developed by Indigenous Australians of northern Australia around 1,500 years ago and still in widespread usage today both in Australia and around the world. It is sometimes described as a natural wooden trumpet or “drone pipe”. Musicologists classify it as a brass aerophone.[1]

There are no reliable sources stating the didgeridoo’s exact age. Archaeological studies of rock art in Northern Australia suggest that the people of the Kakadu region of the Northern Territory have been using the didgeridoo for less than 1,000 years, based on the dating of paintings on cave walls and shelters from this period.[2] A clear rock painting in Ginga Wardelirrhmeng, on the northern edge of the Arnhem Land plateau, from the freshwater period[3] shows a didgeridoo player and two songmen participating in an Ubarr Ceremony.[4]

A modern didgeridoo is usually cylindrical or conical, and can measure anywhere from 1 to 3 m (3 to 10 ft) long. Most are around 1.2 m (4 ft) long. The length is directly related to the 1/2 sound wavelength of the keynote. Generally, the longer the instrument, the lower the pitch or key of the instrument.

“Didgeridoo” is considered to be an onomatopoetic word of Western invention. It has also been suggested that it may be derived from the Irish words dúdaire or dúidire, meaning variously ‘trumpeter; constant smoker, puffer; long-necked person, eavesdropper; hummer, crooner’ and dubh, meaning “black” (or dúth, meaning “native”).[5] However, this theory is not widely accepted.

The earliest occurrences of the word in print include a 1919 issue of Smith’s Weekly where it was referred to as an “infernal didjerry” which “produced but one sound – (phonic) didjerry, didjerry, didjerry and so on ad infinitum”, the 1919 Australian National Dictionary, The Bulletin in 1924 and the writings of Herbert Basedow in 1926. There are numerous names for this instrument among the Aboriginal people of northern Australia, with yiḏaki one of the better known words in modern Western society. Yiḏaki, also sometimes spelt yirdaki, refers to the specific type of instrument made and used by the Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem Land. However, Yolngu themselves are currently using the synonym mandapul to refer to the instrument, out of respect for the passing of a Manggalili-clan man in early 2011 whose name sounds similar to yiḏaki. Many didgeridoo enthusiasts and some scholars advocate reserving tribal names for tribal instruments, and this practice has been endorsed by some Aboriginal community organisations,[6] though in day-to-day conversation bilingual Aboriginal people will often use the word “didgeridoo” interchangeably with the instrument’s name in their own language…

Traditionally and originally, the didgeridoo was primarily played as an accompaniment to ceremonial dancing and singing. However, it was also common for didgeridoos to be played for solo or recreational purposes outside of ceremonial gatherings. For surviving Aboriginal groups of northern Australia, the didgeridoo is still an integral part of ceremonial life, as it accompanies singers and dancers in cultural ceremonies that continue. Today, the majority of didgeridoo playing is for recreational purposes in both Indigenous Australian communities and elsewhere around the world.

Pair sticks, sometimes called clapsticks or bilma, establish the beat for the songs during ceremonies. The rhythm of the didgeridoo and the beat of the clapsticks are precise, and these patterns have been handed down for many generations. In the Wangga genre, the song-man starts with vocals and then introduces blima to the accompaniment of didgeridoo.[14]

Gender prohibition

Traditionally, only men play the didgeridoo and sing during ceremonial occasions, although both men and women may dance. Female didgeridoo players do exist, but their playing takes place in an informal context and is not specifically encouraged. Linda Barwick, an ethnomusicologist, says that though traditionally women have not played the didgeridoo in ceremony, in informal situations there is no prohibition in the Dreaming Law.[15] For example, Jemima Wimalu, a Mara woman from the Roper River is very proficient at playing the didgeridoo and is featured on the record Aboriginal Sound Instruments released in 1978. In 1995, musicologist Steve Knopoff observed Yirrkala women performing djatpangarri songs that are traditionally performed by men and in 1996, ethnomusicologist Elizabeth MacKinley reported women of the Yanyuwa group giving public performances. On September 3, 2008, however, publisher Harper Collins issued a public apology for its book “The Daring Book for Girls” which openly encouraged girls to play the instrument.[16][17][2]

While there is no prohibition in the area of the didgeridoo’s origin, such restrictions have been applied by other Indigenous communities. The didgeridoo was introduced to the Kimberlies almost a century ago but it is only in the last decade that Aboriginal men have shown adverse reactions to women playing the instrument and prohibitions are especially evident in the South East of Australia. The belief that women are prohibited from playing is widespread among non-Aboriginal people and is also common among Aboriginal communities in Southern Australia; some ethnomusicologists believe that the dissemination of the Taboo belief and other misconceptions is a result of commercial agendas and marketing. Tourists generally rely on shop employees for information when purchasing a didgeridoo. Additionally, the majority of commercial didgeridoo recordings available are distributed by multinational recording companies and feature non-Aboriginals playing a New Age style of music with liner notes promoting the instruments spirituality which misleads consumers about the didgeridoo’s secular role in traditional Aboriginal culture.[2]

The Taboo belief is particularly strong among many Indigenous groups in the South East of Australia where non-Indigenous women, and especially performers of New Age music regardless of gender, playing or even touching a didgeridoo is forbidden and considered “cultural theft”.[2]

 
Mohandas Gandhi

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”

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