Western Arnhem Land Didgeridoos
Western Arnhem Land is a large and culturally diverse area.
Some of the tribes of this region are the Maung, Iwaidja,
Gunwinggu, Gunbalang, Nakara, Gunavidji,
Gundangbon, and Gundjehmi, among others.
The didgeridoo is commonly known as mago in Western
Arnhem Land. Mago are typically shorter than - and
acoustically different to - the yidaki of north-east
Arnhem Land. In terms of sound characteristics, mago
are somewhat richer and more full-bodied than yidaki.
Also, the overtone note is not a feature of Western Arnhem
Land playing and most mago do not play this note easily.
The following are other Indigenous names for the didgeridoo
in Western Arnhem Land: wuna-bobanja (Nakara); jarluppu,
littungh and morlu (Rembarrnga); giyanggiyang
(large didgeridoo in Rembarrnga language); and morlu
The first didgeridoos seen and collected by Westerners are
from the Western Arnhem Land region. Most of these are Bambusa
arnhemica specimens collected from the Coburg Peninsular
area where the first European settlements were established
in the 1800s.
The greatest proponent of the mago was a Western Arnhem
Land didgeridoo player by the name of David Bl*n*s* (name obscured
out of respect due to his recent death). Bl*n*s* travelled
the world displaying his virtuoso style and won accolades
for his skill and charm. He also performed with Rolf Harris
in the UK and this had a large effect on popularising the
didgeridoo among non-Indigenous audiences.