Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Tiapet, May 11, 2010.

  1. Tiapet

    Tiapet Old Hand

    I need your assistance if you can help me. For Father's Day I want to get my SO a Digeridoo. I have looked them up online and I'm at a complete loss. I see ones that are relatively inexpensive but they don't seem right to me (and there is a whole lot of them). Then I see really expensive ones and they look a bit more what I recall them to be.

    If you know about them or a reputable source for them, I'd love some information/input so I can be better informed. I know I don't want the pvc materials as that doesn't seem right. I am assuming it should be wood of some nature (have seen some made of eucalyptus but didn't know if that is the native wood).

    Please help me????:confused:
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    A true didge is made from a hollow tree, eaten out by termites and then painted using ochres by indigenous Australians. They cost a fortune and because of the natural timber plus ochres (dirt, basically) they can be a quarantine problem.

    So there is a compromise made these days with more synthetic materials including more synthetic paint.

    Australian Aborigines are a pragmatic people. When doing their traditional paintings, a lot of the artists these days not only compromise on their traditional designs but also materials. After all, culture is a dynamic thing and when a painter is putting together a masterpiece that reflects her life experience, these days it involves a great deal more than merely hunter-gathering. Traditional techniques (such as dot painting) may be used, but the subject matter and the materials may well be modern.

    It is the same for a didgeridoo. What constitutes an authentic didge is no longer the termite-hollowed ochre-painted relic from the Northern Territory. Frankly, anything hollow will qualify, technically. I've seen Aboriginal performers (including Ernie Dingo - I'm sure there's got to be a YouTube link somewhere) using a PVC pipe. Ernie Dingo has done a comedy routine where he uses a vacuum cleaner pipe as a didge. It works just as well.

    Traditionally, a didgeridoo is not handled by females. At the school my kids went to, the music teacher kept all the musical instruments in her office. But the didge was never touched by female hands; in fact, she would get the player himself (generally a local Aboriginal boy) to fetch it from her office, and put it back. I know not all schools follow this custom but it is a cultural respect thing.

    Trying to buy a didge from the US - you risk being ripped off, big-time. I can't recommend any particular place because I just don't know for sure. However, the more mainstream stores are more likely to be "ridgy-didge" (authentic). With touristy prices, unfortunately, and the bulk of profit going to the (foreign-owned) store, not the original artist. You might have some success if you can contact an Aboriginal community, or a gallery that deals fairly.

    I've got to talk to a few people anyway (including the old school my kids went to) so I'll ask them where they bought THEIR didge. That way we get the best deal, plus the fairest deal, plus (hopefully) the more authentic product. But seriously - price could be highly variable, because some of these, especially the really traditional ones, are not just musical instruments, they are valuable artworks.

    Aboriginal culture works a different way to any other culture I've encountered. The ownership of stories, of designs even of painting techniques is steeped in tradition and eldership. Some people think they can easily copy a design, but in doing so they risk more than breach of copyright; they risk breach of tribal lore in a big way. Only some people in a tribe have permission to use certain painting techniques (such as dot painting) and even commercial sale of such work can be highly controlled by the same tribal lore.

    Anyway, I'll make some enquiries for you.

  3. Tiapet

    Tiapet Old Hand

    Thank you so much for the history lesson. That is really interesting and sounds like SO would REALLY appreciate the knowledge/history of it. This would make him desire it even more so. He likes things like that. He has a dulcimer and several flutes (handmade) as well. I try once in a while to get something different to add to his eclectic selection (that he has to keep locked away from difficult child's cuz they love the stuff-which he plays for them). Beyond his ADHD I really think he may be somewhere in the Autism spectrum himself. He displays some of the traits. He is a pure genius and nerd to extreme. The brain power he has is fascinating! It's like he's a walking encyclopedia of really random stuff and lots of it. My oldest difficult child and him can get into some serious conversations/debates and I'm like way out in left field when they do that. And math, geeesh! I'm back at like beginners level and they are solving these serious equations that I haven't the faintest clue of what the heck they are talking about.:( And yet when it comes to organization or memory, oh my gosh, he is terrrrrrible! He can't be on time for anything ever ever ever! I mean never! He could have 2 hours lead for something and STILL be late. Go into the other room for 1 thing (on his mind to remember) and in the process absolutely forget what he was going in for just that quick. OR, get side tracked with something else going on through his head or that he sees and off he goes to deal with it. It's really crazy how it happens. I've never seen the distractibility on his level, even in difficult children. (forgetfulness) It is awfully debilitating to him. I don't understand HOW he knows all he does with this happening.
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I replied to your PM. I mentioned my sudden recall of Charlie McMahon, a guy who invented a modern version of the didgeridoo called a didgeribone. It's like a cross between a traditional didge, and a trombone. This way it can be tuned and can also change pitch mid-performance.

    I finally found a link that will open -

    The issue is - does SO want a very traditional, authentic instrument made the classic way (hollowed out by termites, painted in ochres) because playing something like that would by like playing a valuable Strad you bought as an investment. Or does he wants something practical, something you can toss in the back of the ute on the way to a pub gig? In which case, something made of more practical materials is still acceptable. It can still be hollow timber, but decorated with pokerwork instead of ochres. Because ochre can flake off, pokerwork doesn't.

    Charlie's didgeribone is made of plastic. He's chosen the materials for a combination of function, practicality and authentic sound.

    Wherever you get it from, do more digging on the culture and the history, SO would need to know. When making my enquiries here I have begun my phone calls with, "I have a friend in the US who wants to buy a didge for her husband. I told her that there is a lot more she needs to know, before she simply buys what is on offer on various websites."
    The vibe I got back was - too right! And thank you for asking...

    husband had even more to do with the school and aboriginal culture than I did, he may have more to say on the topic (if he gets a moment to scratch himself!)

    And for those who want to read a bit more about Charlie McMahon - here's his Wikipedia reference.

    I described him to the woman I spoke to at the Aboriginal Community Centre as "a white bloke with blackfella soul." Charlie is about the same age as me, he was growing up at a time when Australia was still trying to assimilate Aboriginal people. There were "mission kids" at my school, great kids who I had been told were living at the mission in order to get the chance to attend school, because where their families lives, there were no schools. This way they were getting a chance to be educated and learn to fit in. I never knew they didn't get to go home for holidays - they were totally cut off from their culture, and still not allowed to mix with us outside school. My parents would have let them come round for a playdate, but the Mission wouldn't allow it. Utterly appalling. But the Mission people really believed they were doing a good thing, giving these kids a chance. My parents subscribed to the Mission newsletter. It was called "Sky Pilot". If you can get your hands on a film called "Rabbit Proof Fence" by Philip Noyce, it describes the conflict in what was done. People really thought they were doing a good thing. They really did. Because we just didn't understand how complex, how valuable, Aboriginal culture really is. And it is not perfect - there are aspects to Aboriginal culture which tend to get glossed over, but also were a factor in "We have to save these people from themselves."

    We know a lot more bow about human nature, about individual human development and about the need to really know your connection to your roots. But could the same things happen again? I think so.

    A film mentioned by Charlie McMahon on the Wikipedia website, is "Jedda". A brilliant film, almost impossible to get a copy these days. But read about it, look it up on IMdB and read the back story.

    Aboriginal culture developed in isolation from the rest of the world over 50,000 years. It is more different, than similar to any other traditional culture in the world. And yet - amazingly adaptive! But they NEED more than any other people, to be connected to their families, to their (very complex) kinships and to the land. Even a good friend of ours who is a teacher in the inner city school, who lives in our village, who is an artist with a classic Western style to her art - even she feels a strong need to go back to the land from time to time, to connect and recharge her batteries. It's more than the "need to get away" we sometimes feel. It's like an air hunger.

    Interestingly, even though Charlie is a "gubba" (not very polite slang term for whitefella), he has always had this same need to "go bush" fairly often. Blackfella soul. I get it.