Making good use of the didgeridoo


Making good use of the didgeridoo

Didgeridoo Dreaming
Alastair Black
Jarra Hill/Larrikin Records
Available on CD and cassette

Didgeridoo Fusion
Jarra Hill/Larrikin Records
Available on cassette
Reviewed by Cameron Parker

Perhaps it's just a sign of the fickleness of the dance club scene, but Yothu Yindi's "Treaty" is such a hot item in London at the moment that people are offering DJs up to $300 on the spot for the extended remix version.

This is not surprising. The song is so different from everything else pumped out at these venues. Its "hook" is the use of the didgeridoo, an ancient Australian instrument put into a new and popular format easily digested by pop music fans.

The didgeridoo is synonymous with the Aboriginal people of Australia. It is one of only a few musical instruments played using extraordinary breath control that incorporates circular breathing patterns, vocal sound effects and percussion techniques.

It makes a perfect "world music" instrument because of its ability to provide a rich basso continuo, or drone, giving the didge its haunting quality. This is similar in many ways to the bagpipes, the chants of American Indians, the sitar music of India and the hurdy-gurdy stringed instrument used in central Europe.

If you wish to delve further into the incredibly broad range of ways the didgeridoo can be played, get a copy of two new offerings from Larrikin Records.

The first is by one of Australia's leading didgeridoo players, Alastair Black. Didgeridoo Dreaming includes variations from traditional solo playing to blended combinations of the didge and flute and the didge and violin.

This atmospheric offering falls easily into the category of New Age music — the emphasis being upon instrumental tonal colour and the interplay of individual instruments' harmonic qualities blending and conflicting with one another.

The BushGiants hail from Yorkshire, England and are as far away from the traditional style of Alastair Black musically as they are geographically.

In a far more original way, the BushGiants' Didgeridoo Fusion blends the didge, percussion, voice and state-of-the-art electronic production techniques.

This music shimmers with virtuosity and originality. The BushGiants' intelligent layering of the didgeridoo's continuous bass gives each piece musical peaks and valleys. Every time I listen to this cassette, w and unique about it.

By far my favorite track is "Capoeira". The BushGiants are such masters of their craft that they make such opposing instruments as the didge and ukelele seem like soul buddies from way back.

If you can imagine Gondwanaland meets Penguin Cafe Orchestra, then you wouldn't be too far from finding a more fitting description of BushGiants.

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