Do you Didgeridoo?

awileman@sierrastar.comNovember 19, 2013 

Local store sells internationally

Musical instruments come in all shapes and sizes. They can play an arrangement of sounds creating tones like that of a ship horns, while others can play harmonic pitches compared a common nightingale.

Possibly one of the worlds oldest instruments comes from Indigenous Australia where as much as 1,500 years ago, Aborigines tribes developed a horn like instrument called a didgeridoo. So what is a didgeridoo?

Musical instruments come in all shapes and sizes. They can play an arrangement of sounds imitating a ships horn or the harmonic pitches compared to a common nightingale. Either way instruments of music have been a part of civilization for thousands of years.

Possibly one of the worlds oldest instruments comes from indigenous Australia where some people believe as early as 1,500 years ago Aborigines tribes developed a trumpet like instrument called a didgeridoo. So what is a didgeridoo?

An authentic didgeridoo is a wind instrument made from various types of eucalyptus trees indigenous to the Australian area. Abundant to the region (there are more than 700 different species of eucalyptus native to Australia), the eucalyptus is carved out naturally by termites who create a hollow cavity throughout the inside of tree trunk. The specific tree trunks are then carefully chosen for their specific shapes and sizes (in some instances branches are chosen), cut down, given a mouth piece (normally made of beeswax), and then painted or left natural.

The unique relationship between the termites and the trees makes it so that the termites eat only the deadwood from the inside of the tree due to the fact that the live parts of eucalyptus contain a chemical know the repel termites. When the proper tree is chosen the result is an instrument that creates a unique meditating sound.

People all around the world are taking notice to this naturally created and oddly shaped instrument, due largely in part to people like Grahm Doe and Tricia Kelly of Oakhurst who have created a world-class online website for the sale and distribution of didgeridoos. The couple moved to the Mountain Area from Orange County after realizing the online service gave them the freedom to station the store's headquarters wherever they wanted.

Prior to their introduction to didgeridoos to couple spent earlier years exploring the business world of music and art. It wasn't until 1999 at a convention called Art Expo where Grahm and his wife, Tricia, came across the ancient instrument that caught the attention of people from all over.

"I was at the Art Expo down south and when I heard the sound of a didgeridoo I could not resist and I had to buy one," Grahm said.

Since, they have taken to these wind instruments and supplied some of the most uniquely designed didgeridoos on the planet.

According to Grahm each didgeridoo has its own unique sound depending on the depth of the cavity, length of the tree and type of wood used to make the instrument. Generally the longer the didgeridoo, the lower the pitch.

In recent years Grahm has explored numerous types of woods to see what sounds and pitches can be made. He has made didgeridoos from oak, pine, and manzanita. They also carry instruments made from many other US Didgeridoo Crafters. These crafters use leather, yucca, exotic hardwoods, and agave. Each one provides it own unique sound and has its own unique look.

Since exposing themselves to the world of didgeridoos the couple has become addicted to these instruments and have learned about the unique medical benefits provided by the use of didgeridoos.

Grahm says he was intrigued not only by the sound the instrument made but by the meditating feeling he received when listening to the sounds.

Studies have shown the didgeridoos to have positive medical benefits as well as good tone. In a study done by the British Medical Journal results showed playing a didgeridoo consistently can have significant benefits towards fighting sleep apnea and other breathing problems associated with weak airway muscles. The number one cause behind this health benefit is the circular breathing technique practiced by didgeridoo players.

Circular breathing is the idea that a person playing the instruments breathes in through his/her nose while breathing out at the same time though their mouth, allowing for continuous playing.

Circular breathing takes practice but allows you to play for extended periods of time," Grahm said.

According to BCL, "Didgeridoo playing improved daytime sleepiness in patients with moderate snoring and obstructive sleep apnea and reduced sleep disturbance in their partners."

While realizing the benefits of this oddly unique instrument, they found not everyone interested in didgeridoos is prepared to pay the high cost, associated with authentic didgeridoos. In response they have made available more affordable didgeridoos made from plastic and other more affordable materials. They also sell carry bags and other accessories, including instruction DVDs on how to play.

Didgeridoos are so relaxing...the sound they make is meditating and a great release of stress," Grahm said.

Grahm said that many people who want to try out didgeridoos for the first time purchase the more affordable didgeridoos first and return for more elaborate instruments after they grow accustom to playing the didgeridoo.

People from all walks of life are interested in this abnormally mis-shaped instrument and the turning-head, revolutionary store has seen sales grow dramatically since opening in 1999. They have had customers from the Mountain Area as well as global attention from all over the world and are consistently receiving orders online. It seems people can't get enough of these odd shaped giant wind pipes.

Grahm & Tricia have not quit with just didgeridoos, they have a design patent on their newly created instruments called HAPI Drums. An off-shoot of tongue drums, the HAPI drum is a lap sized percussion instrument that creates an ensemble of tones that can be used to create music all its own.

Grahm said he was intrigued by tongue drums but wanted a more practical size and tones. The result was a HAPI Drum. The drum is actually not a drum at all but rather a idiophone which uses vibrations and steel to create sounds with certain pitches. Grahm says he loves the simplicity of HAPI's and that when the HAPI Drum is struck by either a hand or mallet it creates sound waves and can create and arraignment of notes.

Grahm says the best part about a HAPI Drum is how simple it is to create beautiful melody of notes which gives the artist the freedom to explore new avenues and different combinations of tones, all while creating new music.

"You don't need a musical background to enjoy a HAPI Drum," Grahm said.

All of the instruments and accessories are available online. Orders can be shipped and arrive in as quickly as a few days depending on where in the world the order has to be shipped. Also, online the didgeridoos can be seen as they are being played to get a better idea of what tone is made.

Grahm said 95 percent of what is sold by The Didgeridoo Store is online and orders can be received within just a few days.

Prices start from as low as $25 for a basic didgeridoo to the upwards of $500 for an authentic eucalyptus didgeridoo shipped from Australia. The HAPI Drums start at $199.

For more details visit their websites: www.didgeridoostore.com or www.hapidrum.com

If interested in visiting in person, please call first to make an appointment (559) 642-6434.

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