Making The Didgeridoo Drone Sound

Making the Drone

Above: Click play and Sanshi will give you a brief rundown of the history of the didgeridoo, how it works and how to play it

Playing the didgeridoo is about a controlled release of a small amount of air. It is about a relaxed, gentle vibration of the lips, it has nothing to do with blowing hard down the instrument.
Without your didgeridoo:

Blow a gentle amount of air through your lips. While keeping them relaxed, bring your lips together and they should start to vibrate together. Some people describe this vibration as “blowing a raspberry”. This may feel quite unnatural at first as you probably haven’t done this since you were very young. Keep practicing, it will get much easier very quickly.

This is the most important technique as it is actually the sound of your lips vibrating that gets amplified down the didgeridoo to produce the drone, not the amount of air going down it.
With your didgeridoo:

Place your lips inside the mouthpiece to form a gentle but air-tight seal. Blow the same raspberry and you should feel the didgeridoo vibrate. At first your brain will try to take over and tense your lips up tight… you may hear a spitting/trumpet sound. This is perfectly normal to begin with, you just need to relax as you did without the didgeridoo.

Pay attention not to let any air leak out between your lips and the didgeridoo mouthpiece. This will make it almost impossible to play. Remember, a gentle but airtight seal.

Keep practicing this until you can get the drone happening more consistently with each breath.

You may notice that one whole lungful of air may only last 1 or 2 seconds. Your challenge with this technique is to get the drone to last between 5 and 10 seconds or more from one breath.

Remember… relax.

Scroll down for more on making the didgeridoo drone sound.

Clarifying the Drone

Here are some simple tips to achieve a clear drone that can last you 15 to 60 seconds:

Try tightening up your lips a little to control better, the amount of air coming out. Be careful not to go too tight and lose the drone.

Rather than trying to blow air down the didgeridoo, focus on holding your breath and letting just enough air come out to vibrate your lips only. Any extra air is waisted.

Trying altering where you put your mouthpiece on your lips. Try either side, or front on. There is no right or wrong, just whatever works best for you.

If you have a beeswax mouthpiece, try adjusting the size and shape of the hole. The bigger the hole, the easier your lips will vibrate but the more air it will take. Find the right size for you. About a 3cm diameter is a good place to start.

Try keeping your cheeks in rather than puffed out. This will help to get a tighter clearer sound and will use less air.

Your challenge now is to make one lungful of air last 15 – 60 seconds.

Click here for our lessons on sharpening your didgeridoo drone.

Before we get into the fun stuff, lets first clearly understand what the drone is and talk about some of the common mistakes made when trying to play the drone

Most people think you need to blow down the didgeridoo to play it. Nope, that won’t do it. The didgeridoo is purely an amplifier. It’s the sound of your lips vibrating, not the air you blow, that produces your didgeridoo drone

It's time to pick up your didgeridoo and get those lips shaking in the mouthpiece. It’s time to play!

There is a big difference between a fuzzy, messy drone and a crisp, sharp, well played drone. This technique will show you the biggest tips to getting a great sounding drone

It’s a personal choice where you position your lips on the didgeridoo. There is no right or wrong spot, but the different positions may have a big impact on your didgeridoo sound

It’s time to see where you are at. In this lesson we set the challenge of playing for 15 seconds straight, using just one breath. You will need to use all the techniques we have shown you so far

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