North-east Arnhem Land
North-east Arnhem Land is the home of the Yolngu people.
The Aboriginal communities of Yirrkala, Gapuwiyak and Galiwin'ku
are the main settlements that service this region. Dozens
of smaller satellite communities called outstations or homelands
have been established away from the main settlements since
the 1970s, in what was called the Homeland Movement.
In north-east Arnhem Land the didgeridoo, commonly known as
the yidaki, finds it greatest artistic expression.
In this region, the rhythms, techniques and compositions endemic
to the people are of outstanding musical interest. Characteristic
features in the playing styles of north-east Arnhem Land include
sharp tongued accents, syncopated overtone rhythms, and variable
The presence of secret non-public versions of the didgeridoo
in north-east Arnhem Land - in addition to the didgeridoo's
incorporation into the cosmological beliefs of the Yolngu
people - suggests a likely 'birthplace' for the instrument.
Indeed, there are Yolngu accounts of the origin of the didgeridoo
set in north-east Arnhem Land.
Didgeridoos from north-east Arnhem Land are instruments of
the highest cultural integrity. The use of the didgeridoo in
this part of Australia continues as an unbroken tradition
since time immemorial. In recent times, the Yothu Yindi band
Gurruwiwi - Mr Didgeridoo himself - has done much to popularise
the yidaki around the world.
Yidaki are commonly made in north-east Arnhem Land
from gadayka - Eucalyptus tetradonta
or Stringybark, gungurru - Eucalyptus miniata
or Woolybutt, and badawili - Eucalyptus feruginea
or Rusty Bloodwood.