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How to Make and Play a Didgeridoo

By Edited Nov 25, 2016 0 0

A Didgeridoo, also spelled didjeridu, is a musical instrument used in Australia. Historically, the aboriginal people of Australia have made and played the didgeridoo. Aborigines have about 40 different names for the didgeridoo.

It is usually made of bamboo or wood, sometimes from the Eucalyptus tree, but it can also be made from PVC pipe. You will have a very hard time telling the difference in sound between the ones made with wood and the ones made with PVC.

The material is usually hollowed out and a rim of beeswax or tree gum is applied to one end, forming the mouthpiece. Didgeridoos are usually about 1 to 1 1/2 meters in length (3 to 5 feet).

Making a Didgeridoo

To make a didgeridoo out of PVC, you will need:

  • a 3-foot length of PVC pipe. It can be between 3/4" to 2 1/2" diameter pipe. Get a smaller diameter for small children, maybe 3/4". You can find it at a hardware store or home improvement store.
  • 1 ounce of beeswax. You can find beeswax on the Internet or at a grocery store, craft store, or natural foods store.
  • Painting/Finishing materials.
    • Medium and fine grade sandpaper
    • a can of primer spray paint
    • acrylic paints
    • paint brushes

Take the medium grade sandpaper and gently sand the exterior of the PVC pipe. That way the surface of the PVC will be rough enough to take the primer paint when you apply it. Sand the ends of the PVC pipe with the medium sandpaper, also, rounding off the edges. Finish sanding with the fine grade to make the ends smooth. Wipe off the pipe with a wet cloth when your sanding is completed.

Spray the exterior of the pipe. Cover it completely with the primer. Make sure you have proper ventilation.

Next, decorate your didgeridoo. Use acrylic paint (or other paint of your choice). Be creative and design your own didgeridoo to reflect harmony. Give the didgeridoo a personality. There's no wrong way to paint a didgeridoo.

Let the paint dry completely, then cover the didgeridoo with several coats of clear acrylic paint to help protect it. Again, let that paint dry completely.

And last, construct your mouthpiece out of beeswax. Melt the beeswax in a pan of hot water. The water does not have to be boiling or anything, just hot enough to melt the wax and not hot enough to burn you. Put some of the beeswax into the hot water. When the beeswax starts to get soft, take it out and place it around the edge of the mouthpiece end of the didgeridoo. Repeat this process until you have built up a few layers to form your mouthpiece. You want the mouthpiece to be comfortable. It must allow you to place your mouth within the hole. The sides of your mouth must be surrounded by the wax when you put the didgeridoo to your face.

Let the wax dry and harden to help secure your mouthpiece to the didgeridoo.

Playing a didgeridoo

Playing a didgeridoo is kind of like giving someone a raspberry. Just put your lips together and blow. Your lips will vibrate when air is forced between them. With only a small amount of practice, you'll be making wonderful aboriginal sounds.

You can make didgeridoos that have different pitches

Cut a PVC pipe to different lengths and you get a different frequency. To compute the frequency in hertz that you'll get, use this equation:

length = velocity / (frequency * 2)

The velocity in this case is about 13,044 inches per second, the speed of sound. So, the equation would read:

length = 13044 / (frequency * 2)

Rearrange the formula to determine frequency and you get:

frequency = 13044 / (length * 2)

You can see that a 3-foot PVC pipe (36 inches) should give you a frequency of about 181 Hz or a musical note somewhere between an F and a G. View the chart below which shows the different music notes, their corresponding frequencies and the length of pipe needed to produce that sound.

Musical Note

Frequency in Hertz

Length in inches

A

55.00

118.58

B

61.74

105.65

C

65.41

99.71

D

73.42

88.84

E

82.41

79.14

F

87.31

74.70

G

98.00

66.55

A

110.00

59.29

B

123.47

52.82

C

130.82

49.86

D

146.83

44.42

E

164.82

39.57

F

174.62

37.35

G

196.00

33.28

A

220.00

29.65

B

246.94

26.41

C

261.63

24.93

D

293.66

22.21

E

329.63

19.79

F

349.23

18.68

G

392.00

16.64

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