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Didjeridu Tutorial



Lesson Objective

In this lesson, you will be introduced to the area of harmonics. You will learn how to modulate the timbre of the didj by controlling the harmonics produced.


Harmonics - all sounds are composed of harmonics. To realize this, sing a single note and mouth the vowel sound "E'" then, without changing notes, make the vowel sound "O". Although you are on singing the same note, the vowel sound "E" emphasizes the upper harmonics and sounds quite different from the vowel sound "O".

Playing the basic drone, mouth the vowel sound "E" then shape your mouth as if your were saying the word "Oh". Notice the harmonic fall? As you go from "E" to "O" the harmonics shift or "fall" from high to low. Obviously, you can do a harmonic rise by starting with the sound "O" and moving to the sound "E" with your mouth. This transition can be smoothed out a bit by adding the mouth shape "A" between the "E" and "O" sounds.


Careful lip shaping can also affect the harmonics of the didjeridu. By altering the shape of the opening between your two buzzing lips, much as in whistling, you can create a variable upper harmonic sound. Likewise, cheek and tongue positioning in combination with mouth shaping can add a wide variety of rich harmonic tones to the didjeridu. These are worth a great deal of attention, as each didjeridu will respond a bit differently to these maneuvers.


As you can now see, any vowel or consonant sound which you can enunciate will affect the harmonics of the didjeridu. It's now a small step to articulate syllables. Try mouthing the syllable , "did". Follow that with the syllable, "jer".


By taking a word like didjeridu, and breaking it up into distinct syllables who's order can be varied, a wide variety of musical rhythms can be improvised. For example, "did-did-did-ger-ree, did-did-doo" will make a nicely varied little rhythm. A practice rhythm which I enjoy comes from a very popular song, "do-wah-diddy-diddy-dumb-diddy-doo".

Common Mistakes

I can't think of anything you could do wrong here! Just experiment freely, and let the sounds that you are producing be your guide.


Although achieving good control of the harmonics of your instrument will take a while, this should be an easy and fun lesson in the art of didj playing.

Hints and Tips

Getting many and varied sounds out of your didjeridu has a lot to do with the harmonics you create, and how you control them. You can build a wealth of rhythm by changing the harmonics as you play.


Toot [.wav format]

Vowels[.wav format] [RealAudio format]

Syllables[.wav format] [RealAudio format]

Last updated: 12/29/07   tt-lp

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