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
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...
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!