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Didjeridu Tutorial

 Creating Your First Rhythms


Lesson Objective

In these exercises you will learn the simplest tools for creating rhythms in your playing. Because a didj does not have the tonal agility of many other wind instruments, you have to compensate by playing rhythms instead of melody. This lesson should get you started on this road.


There are many techniques for creating rhythm, but here we'll discuss just a few basic ones. More advanced lessons will pick up where we left off.


Gut Slaps - Our first rhythm is a basic 4/4 beat produced by bouncing the air through our buzzing lips using the tummy muscles just as if we were expelling a deep belly laugh (eg - ha!ha!ha!ha!). Using the diaphragm while playing the didjeridu is an important technique. As the strongest respiratory muscle, the diaphragm can supply the largest amount of volume for the least amount of work. One of the primary health benefits of playing the didjeridu involves the use of this muscle. So breath deep and feel the beat!
Tongue - Next, try producing the same rhythm using the tongue by mouthing the word "Tu-Tu-Tu-Tu". The tip of the tongue is placed just behind the upper front teeth and as quickly snapped downward. Variations of this sound can be made by mouthing "Da-Da-Da-Da", "Ta-Ta-Ta-Ta", "Te-Te-Te" or "Ka-Ka-Ka-Ka". Get adventurous and combine these together to create your own rhythms. Try "Ta-Ka-Ta-Ka..." or "Ta-Ka-Te-Ta-Ka-Da...." etc.
Cheeks - By squeezing the cheeks we can change the harmonics of the sound of the didjeridu. Playing the basic drone allowing your cheeks to puff out, then squeeze the cheeks together slowly allowing them to puff out again. A "wah-wah" effect should result. Think of a bellows squeezing in and out. Practice doing this slowly at first and then faster. Finally, vary the speed by doing two slow cheek squeezes followed by three faster ones. (2-3 beat). This is a particularly effective technique as it not only creates rhythm, but also has a marked effect on the harmonics produced by the instrument.

Common Mistakes

Often beginners will find it difficult to keep the drone going as they are pronouncing the tongued sounds. If you take too long pronouncing the sound, (like holding your tongue on the roof of your mouth too long while making the "Ta" sound) then the drone will stop. Be decisive, make the sound clearly and quickly.


These techniques are quite simple. You will be able to get the basics right straight away. It will take a while longer to master them though, especially achieving tight control of the tongue techniques.

Hints and Tips

Try to make the sounds as defined as possible. This is especially important for the tongue techniques. Start out slowly, and try to pronounce those "Ta-Ka-Te-De" sounds are clearly as possible. You'll be doing yourself a big favour by concentrating on making the sounds as clearly as you can. As you get more proficient, increase the speed and complexity of the tongue rhythms you play. It's possible to play very fast rhythms using this technique.

(no file yet)  bounced breaths and or gut slaps - single tongued notes [.wav format]

 Last Updated:11/02/07    tt-lp


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