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I didgeridoo - Our Answers

Cosa determina la qualità sonora in un didgeridoo?

This is to some degree dependent upon personal taste, but there are some obvious factors: clarity, resonance, richness, loudness, back pressure or ease of playing, and variety of overtones and vocals.

Quale legname è idoneo ai climi freddi (come quell'inglese) e quale legname offre la migliore qualità sonora?

The type of timber a didj is made from (as long as it's Eucalypt or Coolabah) has a negligible influence on sound quality and durability.

Nearly all didjes are made from different species of eucalypt. There are some differences in the timber, but these are minimal compared with other factors.

For sound quality the main factors are workmanship and the way the termites hollowed the didj and for durability in cold climate the main factor is the workmanship.

Che cosa determina la chiave musicale di un didgeridoo?

Its length and width mainly. Like with organ pipes the longer and wider a didge is the lower the sound. The shape of its inner cavity has an influence too. Widenings near the top mean lower keys while widenings near the bottom mean higher ones. This is only a general guideline as each didj (termite eaten didj that is) is individual.

Che differenze accompagnano un didgeridoo biforcuto? Si può suonare da tutte e due le aperture? Il suono uscirà diversamente?

With a forked didjeridu you can blow either end, giving you different notes. You can also, while playing on one end, block or open the other end to get two different notes. The note you get when you block one end is the same for both ends.

That's why we give three musical notes for forks. The deepest note is the one you get when holding the other mouthpiece closed and the other two notes are produced playing on either end with the other being open

You will find two recordings for forks. One for each mouthpiece and when you listen to the recordings you will be able to hear the change in musical key as Trevor opens and closes the other mouthpiece with his hand while playing.

Qual è lo svantaggio di un didgeridoo a bassa tonalità (A#, G)?

Really low pitched didjes are usually harder to play as they have less back pressure due to their length. They also generally play slower than shorter didjes. But an experienced player will enjoy their deep drone and usually very high resonance. C's or B's are usually easier to play and still have a nice deep sound.

Come faccio a sapere qual è la giusta tonalità da scegliere - e quale tonalità è considerata la più tradizionale?

It depends on your taste. You can listen online in The Didjshop to didjes in different musical keys to decide which one you like the most (it's best to choose didjes of the same sound quality). There's one proviso. If you want to learn circular breathing on a didj, it is advisable to pick one of the following keys, as they are easier to learn on: D#, D, C#, C

No one particular key was used traditionally. Some Aboriginals prefer higher keys while others prefer the lower ones. There are stories about certain keys being used in specific rituals.

La campana d'alcuni didgeridoo condiziona il suono - come per un trombone classico, ed il tipo di colore del legno influisce sulla facilità con cui si produce il suono. Possono le pitture influire sul ritorno delle onde sonore?

A bell does affect the sound of a didj, similar to a brass instrument.

It usually increases the volume of the sound, but it can have effects on resonance and back pressure as well. The comparison to a brass instrument is limited since a naturally hollowed didj is not as regular as a brass instrument. Painting or varnishing on the outside of the didj does not affect the sound, as far as I know. The effect of wood types on the sound in our experience is so minimal that it is impossible to determine as other influences are much stronger.

By far the strongest influence on sound is the way the termites hollowed the didj. No two didjes are naturally hollowed the same, and this makes for huge differences in the sound quality and would swamp any effect the wood type wood have. It can even be stronger than the effect a bell or strong taper has.

The only way to reliably answer your question is to make several didjes out of different timber on a lathe with identical dimensions and then compare them. We'd be interested in the results if anyone does it.

Ci sono aree dell'Australia in cui si creano didgeridoo di dimensioni diverse? Esistono libri che raccolgono dati sugli strumenti di questo continente?

The didj your friend picked up in Alice Springs would probably come either from our region (northern Queensland) or from the Northern Territory. These are the two main Didj production areas. Around Alice Springs no didjes are found.

There are no discernable differences of instruments as to their geographic source. In most didjeridu producing areas you find the same species of eucalypt. What a didj looks like and its sound quality depend solely on the way the termites have hollowed that particular didj. Which to some degree depends on the micro climate of where it is found (specifically on the relationship between the size of the termite population and the annual rainfall, evaporation rate and soil). Those can vary widely over a small area. For example you might find a patch of eucalypt saplings in a gully which is eaten out just perfect whereas 50 yards away on the ridge the saplings all have been eaten too far or not enough. So it is impossible to predict sound quality from geographic location or eucalypt species. Any eucalypt species can produce a great didj anywhere in the northern parts of Australia.

Esiste un compromesso tra le varie caratteristiche acustiche? È vero che una forte pressione di ritorno allo tana dalla qualità il suono prodotto? È vero che un didgeridoo a campana riduce la pressione di ritorno?

There is no trade-off between back pressure and sound quality. But there are some didjes with relatively poor sound quality which have very good back pressure, and such make good learners didjes.

Bell shape can have an effect on back pressure, but usually does so only if the bell is very large and the rest of the bore is quite wide anyway.

Probably the biggest negative effect on back pressure is if the didj has a very wide, yet even bore (we call these didjes 'oven pipes'). There are quite a few exceptions to this and it is impossible to generalise with didjes. The single biggest variable affecting all aspects of sound quality is the way the termites hollow the didj. And there is no way of measuring this. You simply have to play the didj.

We assess the sound quality of a didj without taking looks into account at all.

Come si può comparare la pressione di ritorno di un "3" su una scala da 1 a 5 di pressione sonora di un tubo in PVC da 5 piedi e 1.5"?

Just to be sure, I just dug out an old PVC pipe tuned to C (~5' long) and compared it with a few 5' didjes. In comparison I would rate the PVC pipe at a back pressure of 3.

So any of our learners didjes (which are rated at 4 or over) have better back pressure than a 5' PVC pipe. Please be aware that this is valid only for our didjes (I am certain that other merchants will soon praise that almost all their didjes have excellent back pressure).

Does the material of the didj really make that much of a difference (manmade material vs natural).

The material a didj is made from certainly has an effect on it's sound. And since eucalyptus is such a hard and dense wood, it is certainly the best to use for a didj.

Having said this, I need to clarify that in my experience genuine termite hollowed didjes vary very widely in their sound quality (entirely due to the way the termites hollowed them).

So if you have a eucalyptus didgeridoo which has not been hollowed too well by the termites, it might very well sound a lot worse than say a PVC didj. But if you have a well hollowed termite eaten didj you will not find a didj from any other material that sounds as well.

A friend of me, who works for swimming pool, gave me a long pipe (4 meters) with an internal diameter of 45 mm. On your page you give us the length of pipe for key E, D, or C with an internal diameter of 40 mm. Is it possible for you to give me the same for an internal diameter if 45 mm?

That's a good question. I determined the length for 40 mm pipe by trial and error. But I would suggest you work out the inside volume and ensure that is the same. So you simply divide the length of the 40mm pipe for a given key by 1.27 (the ratio between the cross section area of the two pipe sizes) and you get the length of a 45mm pipe with the same key.

When travelling in Central Queensland, I was told by both aboriginal men & women that it's wrong & offensive for a woman to play a didge, as it's Men's Business. There seems to be little mention of such a taboo on the web, even on sites run by aboriginal people, so is that just a local belief?

Whether woman are allowed to touch or play the didgeridoo differs from area to area.

Whenever talking about Aborigines you need to be aware that there are hundreds of aboriginal clans throughout Australia, which are as different as European nations. So naturally their languages and customs are very different.

In Arnhem Land there are tribes which did not allow their women to even touch didgeridoos. I have been told that the penalty for doing so is rape by the owner of the didj.

I have heard about the same taboo in the South Queensland and northern NSW areas, but never got any reason for it when asking. However other clans do not have that taboo and I have also seen Aboriginal women play the didj and heard of other people witnessing the same. Other clans allow woman to paint didgeridoos, but not play them etc.

Many years ago I put the question to a now deceased senior Elder of a Northern Territory Clan and he told me he thinks it is OK for western woman to play the didj (as long as they would not do so in his tribal area, but Aboriginal woman shouldn't play at all because they would become pregnant.

So there is many different beliefs around this issue and you need to make your own decisions.

I made a D tuned didj from a 118 cm pvc pipe and learned the circular breathing; the sound is really exciting, but I would like to know how large it has to be to play an A note ( for a lower sound).
Plus, I want to paint it because the look of pvc is awful. How can I do that? What kind of paint should I use; will it affect the sound of the didj?

To get an A, you need to cut a PVC pipe with 1.5" (one and a half inch - 37.5mm) inside diameter to 63" (1600mm) length.

To paint your didj you can use acrylics for the colours with a clear varnish over the top or almost any other kind of paint. The paint will not affect the sound quality.

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