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Workshop Offers 3-Hour Lesson on Playing Didjeridu

August 15, 1993|ANNE LOUISE BANNON

Put your mouth to it and buzz your lips as if you were giving someone a Bronx cheer.

That's all there is to playing a didjeridu , the aboriginal wind instrument from northern Australia, says Fred Tietjen, who will teach a workshop on playing the didjeridu today at the Folk Music Center in Claremont.

It is pronounced DID jerry do .

"It's a mouthful," Tietjen admits.

The sound it emits is something like that of a jaw harp, only deeper, and long and sustained, instead of boinging.

"It's also used as a rhythm instrument," Tietjen said. "You make a melody by vocalizing in your throat while you buzz your lips."

The didjeridu is one of the oldest wind instruments in the world.

"Depending on what source you resort to, the didjeridu is about 1,000 to 2,000 years old," Tietjen said, adding that rock paintings about that old depict the instrument being played.

A didjeridu is fashioned from eucalyptus branches that have been hollowed out by termites. Aborigines cut off both ends of a branch, tap out the inside, scrape off the bark, then paint it. The mouthpiece is made from beeswax.

Tietjen, whose background is in cultural anthropology, first heard the instrument in 1981.

"Someone else sent me one, then I taught myself how to play," he said.

Tietjen later went to Australia and, through playing the instrument, became friends with some of the aboriginal people.

He said that it is not a difficult instrument to learn.

"You can play it in a couple hours. But it does take practice to become accomplished."

The three-hour workshop begins at 1 p.m.; 220 Yale Ave. Admission is $25.

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