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date: 24 November 2020


  • Steven Knopoff


Wooden drone pipe played with varying techniques in a number of Australian Aboriginal cultures. Often regarded as a pan-Aboriginal instrument, the didjeridu is probably indigenous only to certain cultural areas lying along the north coast of Australia, especially in Arnhem Land and other areas in the ‘Top End’ of the Northern Territory. A number of didjeridu-playing cultures in immediately adjacent areas (e.g. the Kimberleys) have received didjeridu-accompanied song genres from their Top End neighbours.

Aboriginal mythology regards the didjeridu as a Dreamtime creation, while the historical origin of the instrument is uncertain. The earliest known depictions of the instrument in rock art suggest that its use might date back only to about 1000 ce, though some of the song genres which the didjeridu now accompanies clearly originate from a much earlier period.

The didjeridu is called by different names in the various cultures that use the instrument. One name for the instrument coined by the Yolngu people of northeast Arnhem Land, ...

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