we are all lifetime students of Yidaki, there are no non-aboriginal masters
I do think a lot of people place to much signifance on an instrument that is traditionally not theirs. And yes it can be used to heal etc just as can gongs, bells, singing bowls, drums etc. think of the North American Frame drum (medicine drums).
People love the didj, and want to have nice little simplistic stories about its origin, which is not a deliverable thing, given the complexity, depth, harmony, controversy, and commonality engendered by this thing.
I'm a bit in a special situation because I deal with traditional Instruments (not just Yolngu but from other areas of Arnhemland and the Kimberleys as well) and the cultural aspect of it is very high on the agenda of Serious Sticks. The number of instruments mentioned above are not all my personal instruments but most of them are for sale. The 10 instruments listed as from 'Elsewhere from Australia' are all traditional instruments (Central or Western Arnhemland).
The rest are split and hollow that I made for myself
Whereas I haven't heard much traditional music before I got my first instrument, it is now clearly my largest influence and I don't listen to white fella playing a lot anymore, although I acknowledge that there is something like a balanda school or a western history of didjeridu playing as well.
My engagement with traditional instruments has lead to a much wider interest in Aboriginal culture especially from Arnhem land in general and I really appreciate other expressions of culture too, e.g bark paintings, larrikitjs sculptures but also songs and stories and probably most important, an awareness of Aboriginal life situations far from the glorifying and naive views of many Westerners.
Yes. Since it is not possible for me to travel to NEAL at this time, I would very much like to see Yolgnu come here(US) so that I can learn more from them.
Look forward to finding out other answers and especially Yolngu reaction to the survey.
Learning to play the yidaki has brought me a new wealth in my life that I never imagined having. I strive to understand not only playing the Yidaki correctly, but to comprehend the meanings behind the Manikay. What does the west wind really mean depending on the context? How do Yolngu use nature to encapsulate knowledge in their theatrical plays. What is the creative process Yolngu use to house their knowledge? If the Yidaki came from the Galawinku islands, did it stem from Worrier training? Are there concepts regarding the Manikay that a Yolngu Elder claim even in the last minutes of his/her life? Are the stories really fixed or do they change since hearing through the grapevine exists in the human psyche globally. Are the stories changed based on pride? How deep does the associative knowledge based on each element in nature get? For example, how many associative meanings does Barra have? How does singing Barra contain historical knowledge? Was someone perhaps c!
alled Barra in the past? Did a coalition of worriers paddle from the Islands in the past to fight, representing Barra? Wind does bring energy from the direction that it moves. If so, then how many meanings can it have in the mind of a Yolngu elder such as Djalu? How about the rhythm patters? Listening to the rhythm patterns a million times I now hear patters. I even caught Djalu when I asked him to sing the rhythm for Jaykong. It was the same 24 beat rhythm played for Rripangu, Djarrak, and Gungalong. His explanation for this is that the Djarrak follows the Jaykong therefore they are connected. This only tells me that Yolngu feel that all elements in nature are connected as depicted in their paintings. I'm also aware that when playing a particular rhythm beat that is shared between nature elements that they are not danced the same and that the endings or cues of each one is different. For example, a knowledgeable Yidaki Mi shouldn't just play a rhythm like Marrpan f!
or example and decide when to scream and when not to scream. There are specific places to scream and specific ways to end each song. I've even heard it from Djalu that lots of times other Yolngu just don't know, since their fathers didn't know and didn't teach them correctly. Djalu told me that there are specific ways to play each rhythm even though it's the same 3 beat rhythm that is played for various things in nature. This notion only tells me that yes everything has a rhythm, but not all things in their world have distinct/specific rhythms but rather rhythm patters that are shared. It would be quite difficult for a human being to remember to play over two hundred different rhythms; unless it is a practice in that culture to do nothing but remember. Perhaps it was a practice in the past when there was an absence of alcohol. I know people in my family that remember over 3 hundred poems from Haafez in Iran. What is sad to me is that the old ways of living has been c!
hanged and only some of the elders still think and move like their ancestors. For example, I'd like to know if there were specific ceremonies when catching Miapunu. Did they do things differently than just hitting it in the head and diving in to its flesh? Did they practice ceremonies and have a specific ritual for the animals that were sacrificed in the past? Is yolngu knowledge reiterated everyday by experience with nature? Do they have a system of thought by where certain clouds mean certain things and so they take those meanings and apply it? I do know that Yolngu have deep connection with all things in their world, but how does their songs, rhythms, paintings, and dances keep their knowledge alive? Thanks for this survey.. I'm just full of questions right now. I wished that I would learn the art and Bunggul. I'm sure that it would give me another light to see more.
I would like to clarify a few answers.
#21 I believe that anyone has the right to make and play any musical instrument for their own personal purposes so long as it doesn't really annoy the neighbors. Making and playing an instrument does not, however imply the right to preach its cultural origins to the point of distortion. When selling non-traditional instruments, one must be very careful to avoid cultural misapropriation and misrepresentation.
#33 In the spirit of correct cultural representation, I would love to meet Yolngu, learn yirdaki syles, yidaki craftsmanship, and yidaki stories from them. However, I won't ever try to play a yidaki "their way" exclusively as I haven't grown up Yolngu. Thus I won't ever really understand "their way" completely.
Finally a couple of comments about the design of this survey. Most of the first 20 questions need an additional "I don't know" radio button, for there are several of these questions to which I can only honestly answer "don't know". For example, my first exposure to didjeridu that I recall was the opening credits of Crocodile Dundee. I presume that the player was Aurtralian Aboriginal, but as I did not see him (or her) I can only speculate on this person's demographic.
Sorry if it seems that I'm not interested in Yolgnu culture, which is totaly not true, I am interested but untill now I only use Didgeridoo in a band together with violin, double bass, drum, guitare and mandoline. So I don't really use it in a traditional way, I searched for my own style to fit whith those instruments.
Everytime I surf the web or read new text on worldwide growth and use of Didjeridu and Yidaki, I feel a real sickness in my soul of the over-exploitation of Australian Aboriginal Culture and the abuse of their native trees by people involved in the large scale commercial sales of traditional Yidaki.
I learned some hard lessons whilst living in Australia about playing and teaching didjeridu:- from digruntled anti-white Nyungars of W.A., to getting very ill from not respecting sacred areas and just bargeing on in and playing when I wanted to; through to experiencing the higher metaphysical aspects of the Australian landscape and its latent "energies" as some call it!
I was taught respect for the Land, by the Land.
What stays with me the most and what haunts me still, are the words of an Aboriginal woman "healer" I befriended in South W.A.(whom is now deceased): in the bush we discussed the incredible growth and sales of didjeridu, not just in Australia but worldwide,her feelings were:
"there are now too many people cutting down our babies,too many selling off our babies!!" For all involved in commercial sales of traditional Yidaki-consider those words.
I think half of these questions were impossible to answer because of the assumptions made about aboriginal origins of the didgeridoo in relation to the user's desire to play the thing. I don't have to know anything about Italy to play the violin or Florence to sculpt in marble. Why must this be so simply because of the aboriginal origin of the instrument? I like to play it. That's the totality of it.
Good Luck, i'd love to read your work when your done... (i'm one of the few who does still read, but i know i'm a dying breed)
other options to your questions:
21. Other, please explain: from direct contact with the artist, whether aboriginal or non-aboriginal. Also, in my opinion, only aboriginal artists can make traditional instruments like the yirdaki, others only make didjeridus. Only the player can decide which best suits their needs.
There is a big difference to me between a "Yirdaki" and a "Didjeridu"
YOu should have explained first what is "Yolngu". I have interpreted it as "Aboriginal".
Your survey has prompted me to reflect a bit more about why I ever became involved with the didge.
While in Darwin I was scheduled to take a trip to some sacred Aboriginal sites. The night before in a bar an aboriginal man came up to me and said " give me money we are drinking together tonight" and I did. Of course we drank too much and that night the same man visited me in my dreams and told me not to go on the trip to the site in the morning because I was not spiritually ready. I didn't go and have been bother by the dream ever since.
The Yirdaki has touched and changed my life. Hard to explain.
My main focus at the momnet is to learn to play in Yolngu style. I love the sound and the way the rhythms express a spirit. I suppose its an acedemic exercise to some extent as I'm not and aboriginal from a certain clan so I can never truely play traditional just imitate it, but hopefully from a point of respect for it. I'm also an infant school teacher so I hope to raise awareness, via the yirdaki and stories in the kids over here about other cultures so that hopefully they can respect them as they grow up.
Because of the issues with the current and past treatment of the aboriginal people I think I and other non aborigianl players find it hard to know what is a respectful view and use rather than cultural missappropriation.
I also think that some aboriginal people don't help the situation because of their adoption of ,generally, western attitudes and are happy to make cash by cutting and selling didges in the same pile 'em high sell 'em cheap way as some white Ozzies do. I suppose that it's their right to make a buck out of us but they're not making/selling them with respect. I have someone in mind who I own't name when I say this.
I think this is a great survey Randy and I would welcome the opportunity of reading your thesis (or whatever it is you end up writing)when you've collated all this data and coupled it with your year in NEAL.
I have been playing for 12 years,12 years ago there was very little information about the Didgeridoo ,about the Yolgnu and Trad style of playing.I did thru inexperiance buy shit Didgeridoos and picked up many bad playing habits (like playing using the side of the mouth)which I had to undo to play Trad style.It is very satisfying to see the Yolgnu finally getting the recognition and financial rewards for their culture and experiance,and seeing the right knowledge about playing correctly becoming more available.There is far more interest in Trad playing styles then when I first started, people are beginning to see the light! Perhaps with the increase in world recognition and respect it will brush of onto the general white population of Australia as well.I live in hope.
my opinion is that every people anywhere in the world should be informated of the origin of the didj he want to buy. Notations like "traditionnal australian instrument" ...must be abolished!
I like the idea of a label that has developped peopla like Guam Lim.
are you trying to sell Yolngu didgeridus? :o)
Is Yolngu more important than feeling the didgeridus???
reaction on the 40th question : this survey is really too long but I was just a bit fulfilling to be a part of it. middle answer is missing
is it possible to collect more stories about Dreamtime and Aboriginal People ? I live in france and it's difficult... thanks
I use to share my didgeridoo knoledge with children at the hosptal with PVC instruments, they love it.
My god!... i've played for 3 years and never thought about aborigenees nor about buying a yolngu...
I prefer meet an aboriginal man but writing langage is not appropriate I think to speak about that
I guess it is time for yonlgu people, as for all other traditionnal players, to teach their proper way to play.I mean, Aboriginal painters have succeded in "catching us with the honey of art" without disown their culture, musicians can do as well. Here in europe, there are now many people who are not self-suffisant with the so called "meditative" or "airplane" style, and who have open ears and an open heart to learn... Okay, i'll buy Djalu's video ;)
I have dealt with surveys for some time, and always have a bad feeling with it... X-)
For example several comments on questions:
12) personal development for me is not the aim of my use, but the result of the above.
21) It is extremely hard to have an opinion here... and even harder to say in English. I understand the claim of said Aboriginal people, but can only say that I "feel" it would be wrong to do so. I'd rather prefer spreading more... er... information/clarification (no parallel here to the German word). But I see that this is the hardest part.
Or maybe it can be as simple as: If one makes Didjeridus and does not make them or sell them as "cultural object", it simply is not one. The 'cultural object' "didjeridu" belongs to the Aboriginal people. As long as this fact is pointed out and not abused, it is okay with me.
33) Important question for me, although none of the answers seem to meet the question. For me the Yidaki on "Tribal Voice" was *the* initial experience with music 12 years ago, in terms of trying to play an instrument myself. I never learned any instrument before. Before I was even thinking of "something more" behind it (in terms of Yolngu ways or background of the instrument), I was attracted by the "musical" quality, and I felt it gave me an understanding of... well... Jazz... (which I didn't like too much before). So for me trying to play the "sound"-part (in contrary to the "meaning"-part) was my one and only way to approach music in general. And so later did the "sound"-part of contemporary western styles.
36) I agree here that it is not my business to tell "Aboriginal stories". On the other hand, as long as I haven't heard it from an Aboriginal I regard them as "stories I have heard" (with all possible faults that might occur) and thats how I pass them on. If I heard stories from Aboriginal people I would probably ask them, if at all and in what way I was allowed to pass it on, and still I would be very reluctant to do so.
40) Unprecise question: it was too long (or: I took too long), but it was fulfilling to be a part of. ;-)
we lived what we choice.
I have been fascinated by Aboriginal Culture for so many years that I am afraid to count them.My wife and I travel to Oz each year, sometimes twice a year,to pursue my fascination.This obsession has changed our lives and that of my family but only for the good. The didge was the vehicle for what I regard as the enrichment of our lives.I do not wish to steal anything from the Aboriginal people from whom so much has been stolen allready but perhaps give something back by way of my respect for their having loved this world so well.
I know that there animosity towards didgeridoos made outside of Australia and sold so cheaply. However, I do believe that they fullfill a purpose of exposing the instrument to new potential players. I am guilty of buying knockoff didgeridoos. When I went to Bali in the summer of 2002, I bought 2 bamboo didgeridoos for a whopping total of $2.50. I had no idea if I would be able to play the instrument, so there's no way that I would've dropped a couple hundred dollars on a Yidaki, but for $2.50, I couldn't go wrong. Well, I did learn to play the instrument, and as I got better I yearned for the real thing, so now I have 6 Australian didgeridoos. 4 of them I bought from LA outback (1 is made by Paddy Fordham, 1 by Franki Li, and I forget who makes the other 2, but they sound really good), and last march I bought 2 didgeridoos straight from NE Arnhemland. If it wasn't for the cheap imitation didgeridoos that I bought from Indonesia, I never would've been exposed to the instrument.
No, but I think this survey is a great idea Randy. I cant wait to hear how yolngu react to it.
As strange as it may seem, I Thank the movie "Chocodile Dundee" for introducing me to the Yidaki about 10 years ago.
just embrace it all! some good , some awesome , and well some too fast to even comprehend but hey we all started at the bottom! practice every day...and if get chance...head south for the winter!