Yidaki Making with Djalu', Part 2

back to part 1 - back to the Oz Trip Home - Ginger Root Records Home

Reminder: These pictures are put up here with consent of the Aboriginal community and all those pictured. They do however wish that NO ONE do anything with these photos other than view them on this site. DO NOT COPY THEM to your computer, DO NOT PRINT THEM, and DO NOT do anything else you creative computer types might do with them, as it is against the wishes of those pictured.

If the first attempts at blowing through the yidaki aren't successful, the instrument needs cleaning out. The modern tool is rebar, but in this pic, Djalu's using a good old fashioned stick. Actually a sapling he had me tear out, that will never have the pleasure of becoming a yidaki.

Even though he can play on a giant, rough mouthpiece, he does prefer not to! Here Djalu' is cleaning out the mouthpiece end with a file.

And chiselling out the bottom for that flared shape that kicks out the sound. No additional power tools are used on the inside to clean it out further.

Once everyone tires of doing the work out bush, it's time to pack up and go home. Guess who got to do most of the carrying and loading of the sticks?

On arrival at home, some of the freshly cut sticks get to enjoy a luxurious bath. The main explanations I got are that a) it prevents the instrument from cracking before you're done with it, and b) Eucalyptus is very hard when it's dry, so if a yidaki needs a lot of woodwork done, it's better to soften it up first. But Djalu' doesn't generally soak the wood for a while for "curing" as some do. The didges are generally brought home and finished pretty quick.

After drying and further shaping of the outside, the power tools come out, and the instrument is sanded. This was another amusing part, in that he Djalu' can't resist playing the instruments. He'd sand a little, play a little, sand a little more, play a little more...

And then this yidaki got a good long playing after all the basic work was done. I got this on tape, and made sure to bring this didge home for show and tell, and to be able to practice what he taught me on the same instrument he played for me.

A modern concession... Djalu's instruments are now all over the world, and getting into trouble with cracking and splitting in different climates. So after other people have been treating his instruments for years, he has recently started using an epoxy-based wood treatment to hopefully preserve his instruments.

After the finish is dry, painting can begin.

Brandi was allowed to do a small amount of the painting, a few of the white bands around the instrument that Djalu' played for me. They were very impressed with her precision in painting the straight lines with the paint brush made from the hair of her little dhuway. But alas, she didn't quite have the speed they have!

Djalu' knows the drill... the painting had just been completed, and he immediately got up
and posed behind the yidaki for us to get our picture, the authentication of our new pipes.

Next... off to rainforest country

all photos ©1999 by Randy Graves and Brandi Chase
Please do not copy them for your own use without permission!