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Didgeridoo in the News!

sara.jpgArtist gets that 'peaceful feeling'. It was love at first sound for Sara Johnson, of Marcellus. It was the first time she had heard the word didgeridoo. It was the first time she had heard that Olivia Newton John song. It was a happy song and it stuck in her mind. "I'm sure I was the only little girl in Parchment, Michigan that felt that way about that song," explained Johnson as she pulled out a long, brightly painted wooden tube. "I think the name of the song was 'I'll Bet You a Kangaroo' and the words say 'someday we will dance to the music of a didgeridoo'. I heard that song and I wanted a didgeridoo. I didn't even know what a didgeridoo was! I just liked the way the word rolled off my tongue." Soon she was painting her original designs on her own homemade didgeridoos. Not stopping there, she offered to custom paint the didgeridoos of others. Soon her work blossomed and she became a featured commission artist for The Didgeridoo Store in California.

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whale.jpgWhaledreamers. A film produced by Julian Lennon, shot in Byron Bay and on the Great Australian Bight, has been warmly received after a screening at the Cannes Film Festival. Whaledreamers, which is described as an eco-feature, shows the unique relationship between whales and indigenous Aboriginal tribes. The film follows the quest of British writer/director and co-producer Kim Kindersley, who documented his own relationship with Australian Aboriginal tribes living on Australia's southern coastline near the Nullarbor Plain. Lennon and Kindersley also gathered together a group of tribal elders from all over the world, including a New Zealand Maori chief, on a cliff top near Byron Bay where they called upon the whales to surface and communicate - a tradition that is said to date back centuries. "When we started the film, no one anticipated the current surge of interest in climate change, nor the renewed threat to our whales from attempts to re-introduce commercial whaling,'' said executive producer Wayne Young of Youngheart Productions in Byron Bay. The documentary won Best Film at Byron Bay Film Festival as well as two awards at the Monaco Film Festival in 2006 - the Independent Spirit Award and the top prize for Best Film. "Financing came from Lennon personally and various concerned private investors with big hearts,'' said Kindersley. Lennon has declared himself devoted to ecological concerns, which he will explore via other documentary projects. To visit the Whaledreamers home site, click here.

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marko.jpgVoice of Earth. Salt Lake City artist and musician Marko Johnson remembers it as if it were yesterday - the day his introduction to a 40,000-year-old Aboriginal wind instrument, the didgeridoo, changed his life. He was making drums when a client from Santa Fe asked, 'What do you know about didgeridoos? "I'll never forget that day,"Johnson says. "It's like you're waiting for something to come along and hit you like a ton of bricks. That's exactly what happened. I was instantly hooked." Native to northern Australian Aboriginal tribes, didgeridoos are known for their harmonic, haunting tones and are often called the "voice of the earth," says Johnson. The sound "reaches you on a cellular level. You can feel it with your body." Tone differs according to its material, inner thickness, taper, or bell at its end and many other variables. Players use a technique called "circular breathing" - releasing air with cheeks and tongue while inhaling through the nose - which allows them to maintain a long note, often using their voices to add harmonic or percussive sounds, occasionally imitating animals. Studies have recently shown circular breathing has an added benefit of "improving daytime sleepiness in patients with moderate snoring and obstructive sleep apnea," according to the British Medical Journal. Didgeridoo music "isn't necessarily the kind of music you tap your foot to," admits Grahm Doe of the Didgeridoo Store of Oakhurst, Calif. "On the contemporary side, people have been infusing the didgeridoo into every kind of music - jazz, classic guitar and rock." Artists like Xavier Rudd, Stephen Kent and Aboriginal performer William Barton are popular, Doe says most didgeridoo music is not generally sold in mass-distribution chains, but by traveling to events such as the JT Didgefest, Indidjinus, Swizzeridoo and other gatherings. Johnson uses his creative juices designing didgeridoos. In addition to being the only person in the world who makes didgeridoos with leather, Johnson is well-known throughout the didgeridoo community as an active inventor. He holds a U.S. patent for his 1995 creation of the didjbox - a small box with three holes at the top with 11 baffles or sound chambers that essentially packs 5 feet of tubing into a small wooden box. "When people start playing didgeridoos, they get pretty obsessed by them," Johnson says.

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snoring2.jpgKept awake at night by a snoring partner? The answer to your woes could lie -- believe it or not -- with the Australian didgeridoo. LONDON (Reuters) - Researchers in Switzerland examined 25 patients who suffered from snoring and moderate obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, both common sleep disorders. Half the group were given daily lessons in playing the didgeridoo, a wind instrument about 1.5 meters (yards) long which originated in northern Australia and is traditionally made from the trunk of a tree hollowed out by termites. The study, published in the British Medical Journal's online edition on Friday, found that those who played the unusual instrument over a four-month trial period saw a significant improvement in their daytime sleepiness and apnea. Their partners also reported less disturbance from snoring. The researchers said training the upper airways through the breathing techniques required to play the didgeridoo was behind the improvement. "Our results may give hope to many people with moderate obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and snoring, as well as their partners," the report's authors said.

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wt3.jpgWicked Tinkers. Los Angeles City Beat, By MICK FARREN. The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson first brought L.A. group the Wicked Tinkers to my attention late last month. Ferguson’s father had died, and – instead of going to a rerun – he decided, in one of the most courageous pieces of television I have seen in years, to hold an on-air wake. His monologue/eulogy was moving, and then Dr. Drew Pinsky talked about the process of grieving. This turned things a tad Oprah, and thus, when Ferguson brought on four wild heavyweights in kilts and tank tops, I was superbly ready for them. During his build-up for the Wicked Tinkers, Ferguson talked about giving his father a tribal sendoff, but just how tribal was only revealed when the Tinkers appeared, beating the living hell out of tapan, bodhran, and marching snare drum, while pipes skirled, a didgeridoo wobbled, and a Bronze Age Irish horn bellowed, like the voice of some H.P. Lovecraft aquatic leviathan. As they laid into their wholly authentic instruments with a good-natured fury – and a noticeable undertow of Bo Diddley that caused critic Dean Bonzani to liken them to a Celtic Clash – they could not be dismissed as a single-malt goof. The use of prehistoric and aboriginal horns, plus the high, punk-primal energy, do tend to make diehard traditionalists blanch, but I agree with Shaw when he says it’s a “way to express the feeling of the ancient in the modern world.” WickedTinkers.com.


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cloverborder2.jpgWas the didgeridoo a bit of Irish to the Aborigines? By Daniel Dasey - The Sun-Herald. Faith and begorrah! The linguistic origins of Australia's most iconic musical instrument, the didgeridoo, have been called into question with an academic claiming the name is of Irish derivation rather than from an Aboriginal dialect. Flinders University PhD student Dymphna Lonergan suggests the term may have its roots in an old Irish and Scottish expression meaning black trumpeter or horn blower. She also suspects an Irish influence on other Australian terms. "The response has been amazing," Ms Lonergan said. "When I go through my theory people are generally accepting and find it convincing." Ms Lonergan, whose PhD is on the history of the Irish language in Australia, said she investigated the linguistic origins of a host of terms proposed by a colleague in Sydney. While most proved unconnected to Gaelic, her suspicions were aroused by didgeridoo. She found the first appearance of the word didgeridoo in Australian dictionaries occurred in 1919 in the Australian National Dictionary. The word is not in any Aboriginal dialect and linguists have long suspected the word is imitative of the sound made by a didgeridoo. But Ms Lonergan said an experiment she conducted asking subjects to make the sound of the instrument yielded words full of vowels starting with the letter "b" or "m". No subjects made the sound didgeridoo. She instead believes the word is derived from the Irish and Scottish Gaelic term dudaire, which is is pronounced dooderreh or doodjerra and means a pipe smoker, a nosey person or a trumpeter or horn blower. The Gaelic term for black is dubh, pronounced duv or do. In combination, the terms produce doodjerra doo. Ms Lonergan said she suspected early immigrants drew on their native tongues to describe their new country and believes other common Australian terms may also have Gaelic origins.

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brhorn.jpgBronze Age Horns of Ireland. One of the most exciting musical discoveries of the 20th Century was the reawakening of the Bronze Age Horns of Ireland. An ancient mystery had been solved. For hundreds of years attempts were made to play each of the 104 horns that survived from the Irish Bronze Age. All were met with failure due to the large "single cavity" mouthpiece which is a feature of the bronze horn family. The breakthrough came in the 1970's when Professor Peter Holmes of London compared them to existing ethnic instruments including the triton conch, African animal horns and the Australian didgeridoo. His conclusions were taken up by Simon O'Dwyer in Ireland who began to make replicas and learn how to play them.



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home-frog.jpgDust Echoes.  Dust Echoes is one way that we are bringing everyone back to the same campfire - black and white. We are telling our stories to you in a way you can understand, to help you see, hear and know. And we are telling these stories to ourselves, so that we will always remember, with pride, who we are. A series of twelve beautifully animated dreamtime stories from Central Arnhem Land, telling stories of love, loyalty, duty to country and aboriginal custom and law. Click here to see the stories.