Friday, September 05, 2003

Getting ready for the new computer I have been going though the files on the current machine and found this essay from the beginning of 2002 and thought it would be fine just here;

In 1995 I was living in Sydney, Australia in a suburb which was home to many Aborigines or Koories, the indigenous people of Australia. Called Redfern, it was centred on an area known as “The Block”, a crowded jumble of houses and old factories where around 1000 Aboriginal people lived on land that was returned to them by the Australian Government in 1973. Despite having grown up in Australia this was, at the age of 26, my first exposure to large-scale Aboriginal culture.
I was fascinated by the stories and struggles of the Aboriginal people and after a short time of living in Redfern I wanted to learn to play their long flute-like instrument from the far north of Australia. Most people call it a Didjeridu, but that is a European interpretation of the name based on the sound the instrument makes. The Aboriginal people call it by several names, some being Yiraka or Yidaki ( trachea), Artawirr (hollow log), and Ngaribi (bamboo).
My first Didjeridu was a copper pipe, played a bit like a trumpet, but with a small enough aperture to make it easier to circular breath, as is needed to play Didjeridu. Shortly after this a friend of mine who lived in an isolated Aboriginal community in the far north of Australia sent me a Didjeridu. This instrument I played for a year, until I had the opportunity to leave Australia and travel as a near destitute backpacker. When I arrived in England in 1997 an English friend gave me his Didjeridu as he was about to go to Australia and could not carry the heavy instrument with him. So I was now broke and in Europe with a Didjeridu. I began playing on the streets as a busker, earning enough money to survive and stayed in Europe for 18 months, meeting up again (we first met in India in 1996) with the girl who I would eventually marry, have a child and settle in Umeå with.
I lived as a street musician in Amsterdam for most of 1998, and have played at cafes and festivals in Spain, Holland, Germany, Sweden and Belgium. I have been on television in Holland, Germany, and Sweden. My most recent achievement was playing at the 397th Saami Winter Market in Jokkmokk, from the 7th to 9th of February 2002 where I was part of a group of Saami, Inuit, and Swedish musicians whose performance was recorded by Finnish radio. Playing the Didjeridu has given me many opportunities to meet people. There is much interest in the instrument and the ancient culture it represents. The Didjeridu is more than just an instrument for me, as it has a presence that is difficult to describe without using spiritual terminology. The breathing technique and the hypnotic tones it produces have a highly meditative effect on myself and often on those who listen.
The Didjeridu has become identified with what is labelled The New Age. I think of myself as coming from a culture which is described in the book “The Didjeridu: From Arnhem Land to Internet” , as alternative lifestylers’ whose “model society is based on four essential elements; firstly holism of experience, secondly community with it’s qualities of interrelatedness and co-operation, thirdly ecology, with its sustainable ethos and fourthly, a creative spiritual milieu.” (Neuenfeldt p140). It goes on to say that it is the rejection of materialism by alternative lifestylers’ which separates us from the New Age movement, which “has become in many cases a highly commercialised and profit making industry” (ibid.).

Neuenfeldt Karl (Ed.) The Didjeridu: From Arnhem Land to Internet John Libbey Publishers. Sydney. 1997

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