Answers to Question 19, How do you feel about Yolngu-made instruments versus the split-and-hollow didjeridus that are currently very popular in Europe and America and seem to be outselling "authentic" didjeridus?

respondents they prefer Yolngu instruments
respondents who prefer Yolngu instruments but don't trust that they'll always get a good one
respondents who prefer other instruments
respondents who judge each didjeridu separately based on sound, not its origin
respondents who did not select a choice but provided comments

respondents who prefer Yolngu instruments

It's in the spirit, partly. There's simply a feeling I get, and an instruction I get from Yolngu-made instruments that I don't get from others. It's partly that the individual variation between instruments is so much greater.

I prefer to support the traditional owners. I prefer the acoustics of Yolngu Yidaki and the feeling of playing something that has been made by traditional owners and has come from the land instead of the factory.

While I do make didjeridus from time to tme for my own enjoyment, I still think that the characterisitics of a termite eaten natural bore and the interaction with the qualities of eucalyptus wood are hard or almost impossible to reproduce. I like to use split and hollow instruments as purely musical instruments but do appreciate the cultural context of instruments that originate from the original distribution area of traditional instruments.

Most of these newer split-and-hollow didjeridus I`ve tried, even though they were fashioned in a copycat "toots easy" yirdaki like manner, seemed to lack balance and responsiveness to certain more advanced percussive techniques, and were carrying a sound just too clean and polished for my taste.

I prefer Yolngu and other Northern Australian didjeridus, but also have enjoyed and learned from crafting my own didjeridus, at some time in cooperation with an old maker of wooden horns that are traditionally played around midwinter in the region where I live in the Netherlands. Budget does play a role here too. Sometimes one can come across non-Jolngu made didjes that are very good, and and they should also be judged based on sound and playing characteristics.

I prefer Yolngu yirdaki as I like the sound much more. The split and hollow didges often tend to have a very clean sound that is not to my liking - of course this is a generalisation..

The didgeridoo's I make are from plastic tubes and stuff, I experiment with materials to create a slideridoo (tunable didg)

Having played many,many instruments of different global origin, for the type of fast,percussive style I practice and admire, my personal preference is for well crafted Yolngu-made Yidaki.

The split and hollow method seems like it has violence associated to it (I know ... I'm weird). It feels like there's no heart in the wood itself and it seems like it's a way of "cheating".

Because of the connection with the aboriginal world and because of the superior sound.

I would prefer an original Aborigianl didge simply to support the artist but i don't believe it would necessarily be a better didge. If i could afford an original didge, i'd buy one. but I can't afford the three to four hundred it costs (after taxes).

I prefer eucalyptus didges, not particularly from Yolgnu however, as long as it isn't "mass production" but a product of "nature". It's just the idea and so far they sound better. I think a good sound could be achieved with other materials as well.

if it sounds okay and feels good i'll take it. but I want them to be made by aboriginal people who give the money back to the community they live in

Nothing like the REAL thang bro!!

Being a 'traditionalist' I prefer instruments from Arnhem Land and the surrounding area. This doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the craftsmanship of non-indigenous makers, there are many split-and-hollowed didjeridus that I have admired (and I used to make them in University), but my interest surpasses just the 'didjeridu' and it is the cultural integrity and imbued significance that means as much to me as the sound of any one instrument.

I played in one but I can't to be an owner of this one except if a Yolngu give me one aand if he accept can I play with this one

I cannot afford to own all Yolngu instruments. I have a DidjBone. My 3 other instruments are termite hollowed euc, two I have made myself from imported logs, one is in the Yirdaki style, where I have tried to copy, nature allowing, a fine playing Yolngu Yirdaki owned by Matt, of the didge place forum.
I would love to be able to select a log from the outback and craft it into a Yolngu style Yirdaki.
The split and hollow instruments that I have heard are too finely crafted and produce a boomy sound, which I do not like.
I liken the diff in western didge and native Aus to the difference to French and Aus wines. I drink french wine in prefernce to Aus which simplistically is over blown and too fruity. The grape grows too well in aus. It can struggle in France. The climate and culture affect the taste.
Yolngu made instruments are not nessarily good playing instruments

i 've got an australian didgeridoo ( eucalyptus) for christmas. and i've just finish my first didge with european wood. i prefer my australian didgeridoo cause it's a real eucalyptus didgeridoo made by an aboriginal: better sound, better feeling and respect of traditions . the first dayi received my eucalyptus, i played maybe an hour and after i stays in front of my didgeridoo: a nice moment. My didgeridoo have a story that i don't know but he's got a good feeling. I choose it, the seller is honnest and i made the good choice;
a european didgeridooy made with eucaliptus is a good yidaki too, made white people who have learn art of making yidakifrom aboriginal people.i also prefer yidaki made in australian from aborigene.

Because I want to support the Yolgnu as it is part of their culture, and no person should profit from anothers culture


To be authentic the 'didge' must be Yolngu crafted if I am buying Yidaki.If buying Mago it must be Jaywon crafted but here I would allow a little latitude.

Yolngu have more character !

authenticity is a real must I think

I prefer to buy Authentic didjeridu/yidaki as least I know some of the money goes back to the Aboriginal people

respondents who prefer Yolngu instruments but don't trust that they'll always get a good one - back to the top

Over the years I got quite pickie...
I go only for special ones...
And some times it's not a Yolngu

I think I would like an authentic Yolngu but the cost and not having any real retail source here in Canada makes this a very unlikely event any time soon.

I have two didjerdu's from the top end ... one made by Ngongu Ganambarr, and another that is very special to me that was painted by Sally Mununggurr ... I was able to sit down and play both of these didges before purchasing,(I am a kind of touchy/feely kind a person)so purchasing a didj that I have not held/played is difficult for me

In performance I prefer Yolngu but often use one I made for the certian key needed for the song.

I've been trying to learn 'trad' playing for a couple of years and prefer to play Yolngu didge for that but do worry about the quality that makes it to the UK I also want to get a good WAL stick. If I'm not getting a Yirdaki (i.e. for contemp playing) then I'd prefer to buy a split stick made by one of my friends as I can ask for the specific of size and key etc that I want and know that splitting etc isn't an issue.

People have told me they enjoy seeing the art of a Yolngu didge and the authenticity. I own two split/hollow didges which sound great but look plain to folks. I buy for quality sound but if I can get Yolngu it is first choice.

respondents who prefer other instruments - back to the top

respondents who judge each didjeridu separately based on sound, not its origin - back to the top

I own a couple of Djalu didges and a couple bought from yirrkala art centre. All these are good to exceptional. I have a friend in Tasmania who makes didjeridoos from bush timber and is now starting to make some very good french bread type didjes, so which is better to me it is the note and ease of playing that counts.

the resonance/sound/feeling when I play is what matters most - some very well-respected Djalus for example I just don't connect with. And the same with those from other people/places.

I look at the didjeridu as a musical instrument primarily, and believe that the sound characteristics are the most important quality for a didjeridu.

When selecting a didge, I select it as an instrument, not as a "cultural artifact". Therefor I do not know what my next instrument will be. When buying a didge as cultural artifact, I would buy it from an Arnhemland craftsman. When using it as a musical instrument, I want a good instrument. Compare with any other instrument.

I prefer Yolgnu instruments for playing Yolgnu rhythms(or trying to anyway). For my own style, I prefer instruments I make.

there are MANY Yolngu instruments that are of poor quality coming to market. I have repaired quite a few for people (through the advice of Frank Thill).

I am starting to like the Yolngu instruments much better lately, as some of the split didges are starting to have too much back pressure as my playing style changes, but they both are good for diffeent purposes and playing styles in my opinion.

I love the fact that I have a Yidaki from the land and water of it's origins. Knowning that the rain Yolngu sing and dance about, the flow of the water in the creeks where the totems swim have flowed through the Yidaki, and that the spirits of the Kalkal (termites) have been involved in the process in the making of the instrument. However, for me Yidaki goes wherever I go. It's in my mind, my breathe, and spirit. When I play a Yidaki made by Steve Petree for example, I feel as solid and powerful and connected to the spirits. His Yidakis are very powerful, and enable me to play Yolngu style as good as a dhapirrk Yidaki from Arnhemland.

If I were to obtain a Yolngu instrument, I would judge it based on my musical context and use it form my own peculiar purposes.

As I gain experience I am interested in exploring alternative voices, combinations of characteristics, and keys. Love eucalytus, but will likely try an agave one sometime in the next year or so.

I think that the connection stated before, in question 13, is very much stronger playing an Yidaki, but they just don't play like I like...

I am more interested in the sound and the tuning as I am a recording and performing artist.

Different didgeridoos serve different purposes. Some voalize well. Others have a bigger sound/presence and work better out doors or in performance situations.

I have a djalu & a Ngongu Ganambarr yidaki's , one soft one sharp sounding for Yolungu style playing
a low key Tommy Gondorra Steele mago
vintage Port Keats mago
one n.central, one central & one western Austrailian didj's
All my didj's were picked for their sound/tonal qualities.
I must hear the instrument or a recording before I choose it.

you can have a reaaly beautifull didg from euc and one from teak who looks not so good...but that the teak one plays smoother and sounds better ( in your ears)

I play what I like. However, it seems that a quality split-and-hallow didjeridu is quite a bit less expensive that a quality authentic didjeridu.

i have also from bamboo and pvc a didgeridoo and i use them also ...the have a beautiful sound but on top are my original australian didgeridoos..

there are top crafters from many places and good sticks are more rare than availability would lead one to believe. Although there are great sticks of many different materials and crafting styles I think no collection is complete without a good N.E.A. stick.

I look at the didge for its sound qualities mainly although asthetics and "authentic" appearance is important also.

I currently play a Yirdaki I crafted from fibreglass(after much experiance )it plays trad beautifully and is easily compairable to many of the good Trad sticks I have tried, it will be hard to beat and when I get a trad from Arnhemland it will have to play even better so will be looking for a long time methinks.

It's just a hollow branche (oops, sorry)
I understand the difference between a violin and a real Stradevarius, but people advertise with "real yolgnu", "Eucalyptus wood", "termite hollowed" as if thats the criteria for a good didge.
Big price, many promises, but i think you have to hear an instrument first to judge the quality.

It depend on what do I want to play, the feeling, the emotion ... Didgeridoo make by Bob Druett (White Australian from Darwin) for exemple are really amasing !

but I consider Yolngu ones as an art.

My preference is the traditional style of play and a style which I am tryng to learn. For this reason I have 4 traditional yidaki. The complex sound is very demanding to learn and I sometimes like a little variety. I believe that the instrument is to be enjoyed and therefore have instruments more suited to contemporary play as well. This helps maintain my interest and makes learning more pleasurable.

It depends a lot on the feeling of playing, as i played some euca didges (not specificaly yolngu) and didn't have a good feeling with most of them.

There are many non-Aborignal didjs that sound great.

I enjoy making didges but do not expect to produce top quality pieces. My Yolngu intuments have a whole other meaning to me.

Yolngu didgeridoo are specific didgeridoos, wich are both musical and cultural instruments. Playing such an instrument would mean for me to know at least the basis of its proper usage, ie to know more about traditional playing.
I now make my own didges because
1) i love it
2) It is a good way to learn how a didgeridoo sounds
3) it is a cheap way to have a good instrument

A Yolngu person can also make a bad yidaki !

For one I cannot afford a Yolngu Didjeridu which is why I make my own, I think for me its definatly about if a didje sounds good, looks good and plays well, I've picked up many a split wood and Euc didje and found I cannot get a confortable drone out of it, again I have played a Yolngu stick and found it incredibly easy to play but the price was almost double a split wood over here that pretty much played same. (I understand that only pretty much is not spot on, but for the money i'm not going to fault a split wood)

My first choice would always be a Yolngu one but in a practical world my answer has to be as indicated

Some instruments I've crafted sound and play better than some from "Authentic" sources. And some Authentic instruments sound better than mine -- it just depends on a lot of things.

if it sings to me I'll listen. If it feels good to play i'll play it. If it comes from a good place with good intention, then I feel its good.

Quite often I find Yolgnu sticks to be hit and miss. Some are great, but many are not. Working at Didj Beat has exposed me to many makers, Yolgnu, non Yolgnu Aboriginal and Balanda. Perhaps my style of playing does not always suit Yolgnu sticks because I find many top end sticks to be very ordinary. I would rather support Yolgnu Yidaki but if I come across a great stick that I really like I'll usually buy it.

I like my own didge, My personal travelling didge have been with me everywhere for the last 6 years and been played in a lot of place by a lot of people this builded a certain " aura " on my didge that is important to me and it is also important to me to know the land it came from and its history sure it is not a bad sounding instrument but I come accross much better stick but I still prefere my old mallee stick...

mmmmmmh! difficult1 to answer...ive heard quite a lot of yidaki and all sound pretty darn good....but really dont know if it boils down to probably 20 30 yrs experience playin...being make an hollowed out 2 x 4 sound pretty darn tootin!????? if know wot i mean?

respondents who did not select a choice but provided comments - back to the top

I don't know who or what Yolngu is.

I don't really know the difference, but, I suspect the "intent" and spiritual focus of the persons making the instrument can have a subtle influence on it.

I would prefer an Yolngu didjeridu however I cant afford one and my level of playing is not to a point that would make it worth what I would have to pay to get one. I also enjoy making things and very much enjoyed daking the didgeidoos that I now have.

I don't know enough yet to make such a comparison.

I need many didjes to play differents things like meditation, rythmic, Aboriginal traditionnal playing style... i don't believe it's possible play traditionnal rythms with a eucalyptus from Bornéo or elsewhere.