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Didjeridu Tutorial



Lesson Objective

In this lesson you will investigate the use of vocalization combined with your didjeridu playing. You'll also learn to imitate sounds in nature, deepening your relationship with your didjeridu and the world around you.



While playing the basic drone, try making a sound like a dog barking with your vocal chords. If you find it a bit difficult to do, practice in front of a mirror without the didjeridu. Make a sound like , "woof woof woof" without moving your lips. Any sound you can make without moving your lips can be used while playing the didjeridu.


Singing distinct or indistinct notes while droning adds a rich texture to total effect. While specific notes will vary according to the pitch of the didjeridu and the vocal range of the player. I do find a good harmony to strive for is a fifth above the dominate note of the didjeridu. This would be a G for a didjeridu which plays a C. It is good, I feel, for a player to know what pitch his or her didjeridu plays. If you have a keyboard available, you should be able to find the pitch your instrument plays in by playing a flat droning note on the didjeridu while experimenting with the notes found two octaves below middle C on the piano. Frequency analyzers are great, but when trying to read the output, be sure to play a simple droning note without harmonics (i.e. tongue flat on the floor of the mouth and cheeks stationary). Otherwise the output of the frequency analyzer will vary wildly and may be misleading.


A good effect, when doing vocals, is to vary the volume of your voice in relation to the didjeridu. This takes a bit of practice, but it will make all your voicings much more interesting to the listener.


To the Aborigines, the animals and birds of Australia figure prominently in their rituals and songs. The Kookaburra, in particular, is considered quite sacred. It's comical call is often imitated with a musical laugh through the didjeridu. Other times, it's is imitated by using the back of the tongue against the roof of the mouth as in pronouncing the letter "K" and varying the pitch of the voice up, then down and finally back up a scale. Frogs are easily imitated by making a croaking sound. I generally say the word "rib-it" in a low voice to imitate the frog. The bush pigeon is similar to a dove and makes a cooing sound.
As entertaining as these imitations are, it is often equally effective to imitate animals which reside in the players own country. In the pacific northwest, for example, there is an abundant variety of birds who's calls may be emulated. From the prosaic crow or raven to the more esoteric hoot of an owl, learning to imitate birds and animals with which you are familiar is quite challenging and rewarding.


Another good vocalization technique is the playing of a very short vocal burst, much like the "yap yap" of a small dog. This technique creates a very distinctive sound which may be used to punctuate the strongest rhythms.

Common Mistakes

None that come to mind.


You can sing, shout, bark, yap and howl can't you ? How hard can this be then ?

Hints and Tips

Don't be embarrassed to try the strangest animal sounds.


Vocalizations [.wav format] [RealAudio format]

Dogbark [.wav format] [RealAudio format]

Last updated:12/29/07    tt-lp

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