The Legend Of The Didgeridoo

Have you ever seen a movie or t.v. program about Australia?   If you have, you’ve probably already heard a didgeridoo, a unique instrument originally created when termites hollowed out long sticks or branches they found in the outback.  The didgeridoo produces a wonderfully odd noise that sounds like a cross between a ship’s foghorn and an elephant lost in the jungle.  If you have a long tube from giftwrap or a length of pvc piping, you can create a good working version of a didgeridoo to experiment with at home.

How was the didgeridoo discovered or created?  Well, here’s a story that explains it all.

A long, long time ago – so long ago it happened in dreamtime – some ancestors decided to go camping.  They went off and had a great time, but the weather turned cold at night so they built a warm, glowing campfire.  As they sat around the fire, adding more sticks for warmth, one ancestor noticed that a branch he was about to toss into the flames contained the small, white ants that many people call termites.  The ants had eaten away at the branch until it was hollow and they were still living and crawling inside.  Since the ancestor respected the ants and did not want to toss them into the fire, he pointed the stick toward the heavens and blew gently to remove the little creatures.  As he did, the white ants flew out of the stick and up into the heavens to become the twinkling stars that we see in the night sky today!

And, to everyone’s surprise, the stick made the most wonderful, unique, incredible noise.  It was the sound of the first didgeridoo!   And that is the story of how one ancestor’s respect for all living creatures led to this wonderful musical instrument discovery.

Would you like to hear a didg, color a didg or make your own version and learn to play it at home?  Check out the links below.

RELATED LINKS

HEAR A DIDGERIDOO

http://www.dariamusic.com/didgeridoo.php

COLOR A DIDGERIDOO ONLINE

http://www.dariamusic.com/color_Didg.php

DIDGERIDOO COLORING PAGE (print-out version)

http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/color_didg.pdf

MAKE A SIMPLE DIDG FROM A WRAPPING PAPER TUBE

http://www.dariamusic.com/make_Didg.php

A STURDY HOMEMADE DIDG FROM PVC PIPING

http://www.dariamusic.com/make_Didg.php

ALL ABOUT THE BILMA – SPECIAL RHYTHM STICKS FROM AUSTRALIA https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/make-your-own-bilma-australia-clapsticks/

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Make Your Own Bilma – Australian Clapsticks!

Clapsticks – two sticks that are tapped together – can be found in different countries all over the world. Although they all consist of two small lengths of wood tapped together, they are amazing different in how they look, sound and how they are played as part of the music from their culture of origin. In Australian Aboriginal culture, there are special clapsticks called bilma that are often used to accompany the didgeridoo when it’s played.

What Are Bilma?
Sometimes when a didg is playing, you can hear these small but loud clapsticks keeping a beat for the music. Most traditional bilma are made from the hard wood of a eucalyptus tree, native to Australia. They are often used as part of the Aboriginal corroboree ceremony where dancers become of sacred “Dreamtime” through dance, music and special clothing or costumes.

What Do Bilma Look Like?
One movie about the history of the Aboriginal people in Australia; “Rabbit Proof Fence”, shows a woman playing bilma that are simply two sticks found on the ground.  Other bilma used in ceremony are carved out of hard wood and look more like they are the work of an expert craftsperson. More modern bilma can also have the distinctive dot pattern found in Australian Aboriginal art and can be quite beautiful and creative.  If you make your own, you can be inspired by Australian culture and designs or you can use art that reflects your favorite colors or patterns or images that you find inspirational.

What Supplies Do You Need?
Supplies for this project are simple. For the sticks, you can use two sticks (about 6-8”) found in the woods or a length of wooden dowel found at a hardware store. You can also use an old broomstick or recycle the handle of a broken shovel or garden tool.  If so, cut two pieces that are about the same size that will fit easily into your hand. You’ll also need some of the following for the design: craft paints, Q-tips, fabric paint and possibly a few permanent markers.

Prepare Your Clapsticks
First, start with your sticks. They might need a bit of sanding to smooth out rough edges.  You might want to leave them natural or paint them an overall color as the basis of your design. Once they are prepped and/or painted, then you’re ready for creating your own design.  Here are two options you might like to try.

A Simple Dot Bilma
If you look at most Australian Aboriginal art, it’s formed by a series of dots that create a picture. You can make these dots by dipping a Q-tip in craft paint and them touching it to the surface of your stick. Since making patterns with dots can be a bit unusual, it’s a good idea to play with the Q-tips and dot patterns on a piece of paper first, before you move onto decorating your stick. One creative way of practicing painting with dots is to put your child’s name on a paper and allow them to fill up their name with dots as well as create designs around it. Once you feel you’ve gotten the hang of it, move on to decorating your sticks.

A Crafty Textured Dot Design Bilma
For a more elaborate bilma, you can work with the type of textured fabric paint that is found at any craft store.  Although this type of paint is often used on fabrics, it also works perfectly on wood. Since the level of paint that comes out of the nozzle is a bit tricky, it’s a good idea to practice on a piece of paper first to see how the fabric paint will flow for you. Once you like how it works, start creating the design on your sticks. There’s one warning here, though.  Fabric paint takes a bit of time to harden, so make sure you’ve set your bilma on something to dry – such as an empty, open egg carton or toilet paper holders. That way your dots can dry perfectly and not smudge as you complete your project.

Once you’re happy with what you’ve created, you can seal the project with a coat of clear lacquer, if desired.

Playing The Bilma
Traditional bilma are played by holding one stick in place in one hand and tapping on top of it with the other clapstick. If you make a didgeridoo, you can have one person play the didg and another can keep the beat with the bilma. You can play like this or you can experiment with tapping the sticks together in any number of other ways.

Sing a favorite song and tap to the beat or put on a cd you enjoy and see it you can play in time with the rhythms you hear. Try it with slow or fast music – it’s a great way to learn to listen for the beat of a song.  And take a moment to appreciate what you’ve done.  Making music is a great way of expressing yourself and learning about world cultures at the same time.  Enjoy!

Supplies
2 wooden pieces about 6 – 8” in length
Sandpaper
Craft paint
Q-tips (for the dot design pattern)
Textured fabric paint (for more intricate patterns)
Clear lacquer (if desired, to seal the project when it’s completed).

Related Links:
Make Your Own Didgeridoo – http://www.dariamusic.com/make_Didg.php

Hear, color or create other instruments from around the world: http://www.dariamusic.com/cajon.php

14 World Music Instruments That Can Be Made From Recycled Materials

How do people around the world make music?  In some really amazing, beautiful, and diverse ways!

The instruments used to make music around the globe are also quite diverse and often made from unique materials.  Some are crafted from dried gourds, bones, bamboo or from wood. There are also instruments that use repurposed items – such as the cajón from Peru.  This “box drum” was originally made in secret from shipping boxes and dresser drawers when slaves were forbidden to use their African-style drums. If you add a set of thimbles to a washboard, you turn a household tool into a percussion instrument! It’s easy to see how common items can take on new usages and meaning.

There are also some modern ways or recreating ancient instruments.  Didgeridoos; originally from Aboriginal culture of Australia, can now be found all over the world.  Instead of the original didg made from a tree branch hollowed out by ants, some are made from pvc piping – the type found in most modern bathrooms.  Other unique ones I’ve seen in my travels include one made from a long tube and an orange traffic cone and one made from used crushed, metal Chinese food containers. People have gotten really creative in making and remaking instruments – often with the coolest recycled materials.  And you can to!

Here’s a list of our favorite recycled instrument crafts along with the materials you’ll need to create them for yourself.

 

Cajon (box drum)

Materials: sturdy cardboard box, materials for decoration

Link: http://www.dariamusic.com/make_Cajon.php

 

Didgeridoo

Materials: pvc piping or long gift wrap paper tube, materials for decoration

Link: http://www.dariamusic.com/make_Didg.php

Washboard

Materials: Sturdy cardboard, manila folder, materials for decoration

Link: http://www.dariamusic.com/make_Washboard.php

 

String Thing

Materials: Sturdy metal or plastic box, rubber bands in various sizes

Link: http://www.dariamusic.com/make_String.php

 

Guiro

Materials: plastic water bottle with ridges, unsharpened pencil, hair pick or used chopstick (as scraper), materials for decoration

Link: http://www.dariamusic.com/make_Guiro.php

 

Pow-Wow Drum

Materials: Large piece of sturdy material (such as vinyl), materials for decoration

Link: http://www.dariamusic.com/make_Drum.php

Make a Drum Beater

Materials: long stick, electrical tape, materials for decoration

Link: http://www.dariamusic.com/make_beater.php

 

Shekere

Materials: Recycled milk jug, stickers, about a handful of any small material such as rice, birdseed or dried macaroni 

Link: http://www.dariamusic.com/make_Shekere.php

 

Recycled Rattles – Nature Walk Rattles

Materials: Any clear recycled container, any items found on a nature walk, electrical tape

Link: http://tinytappingtoes.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/take-a-nature-walkmake-a-recycled-rattle/

Maracas

Materials: two small plastic water bottles, two toilet paper tubes, about a handful of any small material such as rice, birdseed or dried macaroni, electrical tape 

Link: https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/make-some-marvelous-maracas/

Sistrum

Materials: Either a wire coat hanger or a tree branch shaped like a “y”, jewelry wire or any thin wire, beads, jingles, buttons or other “jangley” objects.

Links: http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/ecosistrum.pdf and: http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/naturalsistrum.pdf

 

Gong

Materials: Large roasting pan, pipecleaners, large tube from gift wrap or large stick, stick (ruler or unsharpened pencil) for the beater, electrical tape, materials for decoration

Link: http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/chinesegong.pdf

 

Cajita  (little box percussion instrument)

Materials: cigar box, wooden dowel, small cabinet knob, materials for decoration

Link: http://wp.me/p1gB0a-13

 

Kalimba

Materials: small pieces of wood, bobby pins, push pins, glue

Link: https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/she-made-a-homemade-mbira/

Ocean Drum

Materials: any shipping box, small piece of sturdy plastic or vinyl, packing tape, about a handful of any small material such as rice, birdseed or dried macaroni, materials for decoration

Link: http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/Ocean%20Drum%20Instructions.pdf

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rock Out! E-Book 

Would you like to see 10 of these ideas in a step-by-step format with illustrations and photos of the projects plus instruments?  I’ve just published an e-book called Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rock Out!  It’s available from Teachers Pay Teachers and from my Little Village Store at the links below.

Enjoy!

From Teachers Pay Teachers ($5.99):

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Reduce-Reuse-Recycle-Rock-Out-E-Book-With-10-Musical-Activities-653502

From Syllabuy

http://www.syllabuy.co/earth-day-e-book-of-musical-crafts-reduce-reuse-recycle-and-rock-out

From DARIA’s Little Village Store ($5.99):

http://dariasvillagestore.storenvy.com/products/1346002-e-book-reduce-reuse-recycle-and-rock-out

Celebrate Earth Day By Making Recycled Instruments

A real wooden cajon and a version made from a cardboard box - both sound great!

Have you ever wondered what the first musical instruments might have been? Anthropologists say that they were very simple but powerful creations made with natural materials, such as a log drum from Africa,  a bone flute from South America or corn kernels or pebbles placed inside a gourd and sealed to make a Native rattle. You might even say that early people or indigenous people were the original reusers and recyclers. But that type of creativity doesn’t need to be a part of an ancient or far-away civilization. If you work with children and have access to recycled materials, then you can also create some awesome instruments that work very much like their real counterparts around the world.

wooden, bone and recycled guiros

For instance, take the guiro.  A guiro is a simple instrument with ridges often found in Latin America countries and it is scraped with a stick or pick or rasp to create wonderful rhythms. The last time I visited Lima, Peru, young kids had created their own guiros from soda bottles with ridges and were playing them with plastic hair picks, while singing their favorite songs. It sounded fantastic. If you want to hear a guiro, color a guiro, hear a guiro song or find a pdf to make one yourself, visit: http://www.dariamusic.com/guiro.php .

And how about a didgeridoo from Australia?  The original was made from a tree branch hollowed out by ants, but you can make your own version with wrapping paper tubes or from PVC piping.  Believe it or not, these instruments don’t take a lot of effort to create and sound really great!  To hear, color or find instructions to make a didg, visit: http://www.dariamusic.com/didgeridoo.php .

And, have you ever heard a cajón – a box drum from the Afro-Peruvian culture? It’s a wonderful instrument to learn the skills of basic hand percussion. And it can be made from a shoebox or a simple sturdy cardboard box. To hear, color or find instructions to make the cajón, visit: http://www.dariamusic.com/cajon.php .

And what about the USA?  I’ve always loved seeing a simple washboard used to clean clothes turned into an amazing rhythm machine. You can play it with spoons, plastic forks, thimbles, chopsticks or whatever you find handy. A simple version can be made easily from sturdy cardboard and manilla paper so a whole class can create a recycled band in no time!  To hear, color or find instructions to make a washboard, visit: http://www.dariamusic.com/washboard.php .

If you’d like to hear many of these wonderful world music instruments in the context of songs, check out my music at www.dariamusic.com or explore any type world music traditions for yourself.  Listen for what is creating the sounds.  Learn about what instruments are special to different groups of people and why.  It’s a wonderful way to explore world cultures and build bridges while being creative and having some musical fun at the same time!