Art, culture & heritage, Northern Territory, Australia

Didgeridoo

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Digeridoo lesson, Kakadu Culture Camp, Kakadu and Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia

Cast your mind back a thousand years while listening to the strange and haunting sounds of a didgeridoo in the desert. An icon of indigenous Australia, the didgeridoo provides the soundtrack to the Northern Territory and evokes all the mystery and magic of the Dreamtime.

Cultural importance

The didgeridoo is of huge significance to indigenous Australians and while it plays an integral role in traditional ceremonies, these days it's also played more casually by buskers and around campfires.

The instrument dates back 1000 years to the northeast of Arnhem Land but today materials for making didgeridoos are sourced all across Northern Territory. These amazing instruments are also completely unique with no two didgeridoos producing the same sound. The length, diameter and texture of the wood all affect the tone and pitch of the instrument.

The sound

The Territory's the place to hear a 'didge' played by an expert. Catch a live performance at an art centre, on a visit to an aboriginal community, or at various local festivals across the NT.
 
The distinctive drone and hypnotic rhythm is produced by circular breathing into the mouthpiece of the long wooden pipe. In the hands of an expert the didgeridoo can also be made to mimic natural sounds, like the swirling movement of a snake or the howling pitch of the wind.

Buying a 'didge'

You'll have plenty of opportunities to learn to play the 'didge' all over NT. This involves a tricky technique of breathing in through the nose and out of the mouth simultaneously. But even if you don't have the patience to learn, didgeridoos make impressive pieces of artwork. Hand painted designs are passed on from generation to generation, representing different clan and totemic patterns, and make a fantastic souvenir from your trip to the Northern Territory.

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