Monday, December 29, 2008


About how long does it take to master the didgeridoo and do significant numbers of musical white Australians give it a try?

It takes a very long time to master the didgeridoo- because to play it 'properly' you need to develop cyclic breathing, that is, being able to breathe in while you're blowing out. The lip vibrations needed are also very difficult. I think that most kids have tried blowing into a didgeridoo or even just a cardboard tube, to try and make the sounds, but most musical adults don't take it up, they stick to things like the saxophone or the guitar or the keyboard- most white people seem to prefer to be able to play a tune. And there aren't many opportunities for a white didgeridoo player to play it.

Most people who buy didgeridoos are tourists, to be honest. Or you buy it as a cultural item, rather than something to play.

Something else to think about- women can't play it (and it's frowned upon for anyone white to play it too). According to Aboriginal traditional Law, it is a man's instrument. That's not stopped girls from giving it a try, but it's very much frowned upon, so by the time they're adults, most of the women don't try or play, out of respect. I haven't tried playing a didgeridoo since I was about 9 years old, it just seems wrong to do it, and when I tried, I didn't know the rules.

Nicole Kidman apparently played one in the Australia movie- that's caused quite a lot of backlash.


  1. Do not expect to enter this country if you cannot respect Aborigines. They do not allow non-Aborigines to play the didgeridoo let alone females.
    I suppose you do not give a stuff and just want to enjoy a good bludge in Australia. Now bugger off!!!

  2. Um, Anonymous- I *am* Australian. And my friend hasn't touched a didgeridoo.

  3. from elsewhere:

    "Didge playing by women IS allowed in the only Aboriginal areas that lay
    claim to the didgeridoo, around Katherine / Kakadu in the Northern
    Territory. Andrew Langford has been teaching people to play the didge for
    well over a decade in Alice Springs at his Sounds of Starlight theatre in
    Alice Springs Todd Mall. This has NEVER been an issue with indigenous people
    in the NT. His customers include: males and females, indigenous and
    non-indigenous, locals and tourists.He has been taught by respected
    indigenous elders in Northern Australia, and respects the ceremonial use of
    the didge. Non-ceremonial playing by women is permitted, whether indigenous
    or not. Taboos are relevant only in ceremonial law, not commercial law and
    should not have any relevance to Kooris from Sydney trying to be victims of
    bad film-making and equally bad publicity on German TV.Shalom.
    Posted By :Mike of Alice"


  4. ah the didge. most people i would bet have no idea what they are...well at least americans. i had no clue before i actually saw one. interesting what anonymous said, because my friend from america (white) bought one just fine. i think rules are semi-loose. i saw another white tourguide playing one and he seemed to know the lay of the land. i doubt he was disrespecting aborigines.

  5. also a koori woman told my daughter the circular breathing playing yadaki [didge] isn't good for the uterus.

    anonymous 2

  6. i am a decendent from the Manandangji tribe, i have grown up with the elders (both men and women) telling me never to play the didgeridoo. I have grown up respecting that. The whole Nicole Kidman "incident" annoyed me, the fact that she calls herself and Australian but then goes and disrespects the oldest Australian culture. Shouldnt she have known better, i think yes.


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