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The didgeridoo or didjeridu is a wind instrument developed by Indigenous Australians of northern Australia at least 1,500 years ago and is still in widespread usage today both in Australia and around the world. It is sometimes described as a natural wooden trumpet or "drone pipe". Musicologists classify it as an aerophone. The instrument is traditionally made from Eucalyptus trees which have had their interiors hollowed out by termites or died of other causes.
There are no reliable sources stating the didgeridoo's exact age, though it is commonly claimed to be the world's oldest wind instrument. Archaeological studies of rock art in Northern Australia suggests that the Aboriginal people of the Kakadu region of the Northern Territory have been using the didgeridoo for at least 1,500 years, based on the dating of paintings on cave walls and shelters from this period.
The didgeridoo is played with continuously vibrating lips to produce the drone while using a special breathing technique called circular breathing. This requires breathing in through the nose whilst simultaneously expelling stored air out of the mouth using the tongue and cheeks. By use of this technique, a skilled player can replenish the air in their lungs, and with practice can sustain a note for as long as desired. Recordings exist of modern didgeridoo players playing continuously for more than 40 minutes.
Traditionally and originally, the didgeridoo was primarily played as an accompaniment to ceremonial dancing and singing, however, it was also common for didgeridoos to be played for solo or recreational purposes outside of ceremonial gatherings. For surviving Aboriginal groups of northern Australia, the didgeridoo is still an integral part of ceremonial life, as it accompanies singers and dancers in surviving cultural ceremonies.
Today, the majority of didgeridoo playing is for recreational purposes in both Indigenous Australian communities and elsewhere around the world.
Published by Art Unlimited, Amsterdam.