A, B and C: Three didgeridoos that were crafted and decorated by traditional custodians of the instrument
D: Typical non-traditional Aboriginal didgeridoo made for tourist trade with non-traditional decorations
E: A didgeridoo made by non-Aboriginals in Australia, not decorated
Brass instrument
Other namesdidjeridu, yiḏaki, mandapul
Hornbostel–Sachs classification423.121.11
(End-blown straight tubular natural trumpet without mouthpiece)
Playing range
Written range: Fundamental typically A2 to G3
Related instruments
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Cornet, Bugle,
Natural trumpet, Post horn, Roman tuba, Bucina, Shofar, Conch, Lur, Baritone horn, Bronze Age Irish Horn
Didgeridoo and clapstick players performing at Nightcliff, Northern Territory

The didgeridoo (/; also known as a didjeridu) is a wind instrument developed by Indigenous Australians of northern Australia potentially within the last 1,500 years and still in widespread use today both in Australia and around the world. It is sometimes described as a natural wooden trumpet or "drone pipe". Musicologists classify it as a brass aerophone.[1]

There are no reliable sources stating the didgeridoo's exact age. Archaeological studies of rock art in Northern Australia suggest that the people of the Kakadu region of the Northern Territory have been using the didgeridoo for less than 1,000 years, based on the dating of paintings on cave walls and shelters from this period.[2] A clear rock painting in Ginga Wardelirrhmeng, on the northern edge of the Arnhem Land plateau, from the freshwater period[3] (that had begun 1500 years ago)[4] shows a didgeridoo player and two songmen participating in an Ubarr Ceremony.[5]

A modern didgeridoo is usually cylindrical or conical, and can measure anywhere from 1 to 3 m (3 to 10 ft) long. Most are around 1.2 m (4 ft) long. Generally, the longer the instrument, the lower its pitch or key. However, flared instruments play a higher pitch than unflared instruments of the same length.

Names and etymology

There are numerous names for the instrument among the Aboriginal peoples of northern Australia, none of which closely resemble the word "didgeridoo" (see below). Many didgeridoo enthusiasts and some scholars advocate reserving local names for traditional instruments, and this practice has been endorsed by some Aboriginal community organisations.[6] However, in everyday conversation, bilingual Aboriginal people will often use the word "didgeridoo" interchangeably with the instrument's name in their own language.

"Didgeridoo" is considered to be an onomatopoetic word of Western invention. The earliest occurrences of the word in print include a 1908 edition of the Hamilton Spectator,[7] a 1914 edition of The Northern Territory Times and Gazette,[8] and a 1919 issue of Smith's Weekly where it was referred to as an "infernal didjerry" which "produced but one sound – (phonic) didjerry, didjerry, didjerry and so on ad infinitum".[9]

A rival explanation, that didgeridoo is a corruption of the Irish language (Gaelic) phrase dúdaire dubh or dúidire dúth, is controversial.[10] Dúdaire/dúidire is a noun that may mean, depending on the context, "trumpeter", "hummer", "crooner", "long-necked person", "puffer", "eavesdropper", or "chain smoker", while dubh means "black" and dúth means "native".

Yiḏaki (sometimes spelt yirdaki) is one of the most commonly used names, although – strictly speaking – it refers to a specific type of instrument made and used by the Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem Land. However, since the death, in early 2011, of a Manggalili-clan man whose name sounds similar to yiḏaki, Yolngu themselves now use the synonym mandapul to refer to the instrument, out of respect for the deceased.

There are numerous other, regional names for the didgeridoo. The following are some of the more common of these.[11]

People Region Local name
Anindilyakwa Groote Eylandt ngarrriralkpwina
Arrernte Alice Springs ilpirra
Djinang Arnhem Land yiḏaki
Gagudju Arnhem Land / Kakadu garnbak
Gupapuygu Arnhem Land yiraka
Iwaidja Cobourg Peninsula artawirr
Jawoyn Katherine / Nitmiluk / Kakadu gunbarrk
Gunwinygu Arnhem Land / Kakadu mako
Mayali Alligator Rivers martba
Ngarluma Roebourne, W.A. kurmur
Nyul Nyul Kimberleys ngaribi
Pintupi Central Australia paampu
Warray Adelaide River bambu
Yolngu Arnhem Land mandapul (yiḏaki)
Other Languages
العربية: ديدجيريدو
български: Диджериду
brezhoneg: Didjeridou
català: Didjeridú
čeština: Didgeridoo
dansk: Didgeridoo
Deutsch: Didgeridoo
español: Didyeridú
Esperanto: Diĝeriduo
euskara: Didgeridoo
فارسی: دیجریدو
français: Didgeridoo
Gaeilge: Didiridiú
galego: Didgeridoo
हिन्दी: डिजरीडू
hrvatski: Didžeridu
Bahasa Indonesia: Didgeridoo
italiano: Didgeridoo
עברית: דידג'רידו
kaszëbsczi: Didgeridoo
Lëtzebuergesch: Didgeridoo
lietuvių: Didžeridū
magyar: Didzseridu
македонски: Диџериду
Nederlands: Didgeridoo
norsk: Didgeridoo
norsk nynorsk: Didgeridoo
Piemontèis: Digeridó
polski: Didgeridoo
português: Didjeridu
русский: Диджериду
Scots: Didgeridoo
Simple English: Didgeridoo
slovenčina: Didgeridoo
slovenščina: Didžeridu
српски / srpski: Диџериду
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Didžeridu
Basa Sunda: Digeridu
suomi: Didgeridoo
svenska: Didgeridoo
Türkçe: Didgeridoo
українська: Діджеріду