Blowing on the Didgeridoo
Expert and Musician Phillip Jackson Discusses the Instrument that is Taking Over the World of Music
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Paula: Why do you think so many people in and outside of Australia are interested in the didgeridoo?

Phillip: That's a tough question. Generally speaking, I think that listening to a well-played didgeridoo resonates very deeply with people, and people are at first puzzled and then fascinated by the almost physical response that tends to happen. It is a very primal sound, and I really feel (without getting all cosmic on you) that its vibrations are responded to on a level that is much deeper than a simple aural response. Everybody knows that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, so all we are is a re-arrangement of stuff that's already been out there since the beginning of time. Australia's Aboriginal cultures collectively represent the longest continuously running culture in the world (most recently estimated to extend back 176 000 years), so many of our atoms may well have already swayed to the rhythms of this ancient instrument.

Also, after having taught many people how to play, I know that people in the west are often looking to play older instruments with ritual associations like didgeridoos and African drums, (djembe, bukaribu, djun-djun and such), to feel that they are connecting with something which is much bigger and older than themselves. Older, tribally oriented cultures have a strong sense of community which underpins their social structure, and in a society that has become as fragmented and isolating as has ours, a desire to reconnect to this more community oriented way of thinking is understandable, if only symbolically. Most of the Aboriginal people I have spent time with have no problem in allowing us to indulge in this very western conceit. I sincerely hope, however, that people remember that, regardless of degrees of proficiency, we have only been loaned these instruments, and, in borrowing them, we have a responsibility to promote the cultures from which they have been borrowed.

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