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Selecting a Multi Drone Didgeridoo

Tips on Buying a Multi Drone Didgeridoo

Here are some thoughts and equations about the different keys (pitches) of Multi Drone didgeridoos. I have crafted the information assuming that most people are relatively new to this technique and so the information is weighted towards how it will be to learn on each different key. If you are completely new to the Drop Octave and Multidrone techniques check out to learn what they are and learn the lingo. Some keys such as F and D boarder two categories depending on the individual instrument so they are included in two sections.

High keys: High A, G#, G, F#, F

Thoren didgeridoo mouthpieceIn regards to learning the multi drone and drop octave techniques, I feel higher keys are easier to drop down an octave. Why? Because you simply don’t have to drop down as far. These pitches typically want to be played faster and sound better faster because of their natural high energy. The amazing part is in the multi drone range the low notes can be played amazingly fast and carry a lot more energy than the same note produced by a super long didgeridoo. Many people are not accustomed to playing higher keys so these may seem foreign to normal styles of playing that you may be comfortable with. A very cool extra feature is on the highest keys it is possible to drop below drop octave. For example high G drone usually drops an octave and then again to a low C drone below the drop octave. Personally I feel they are the best for quickly developing new levels of lip control (aided by the shape and size of the mouthpieces, as pictured at right) and diving into the multi drone technique. This style offers the most unexplored territory for those looking to expand their range of sounds.

Middle Keys: F, E, Eb, D

These feel more familiar to most players and offer a comfortable start up for more experienced players who want to jump into playing what they already know with the option of getting low. The multi drone notes are more gentle in this range meaning the notes between the drop octave and the fundamental don’t take as much pressure to create as the higher keys which makes them easier to achieve. The Drop Octave is a little more difficult to hit than the higher keys but is amazingly heavy and once achieved becomes as easy as the normal drone. Back pressure in general in this range is not as necessary simply because these tones don’t resonate as fast as the higher tones. This means they enjoy being played fast or slow and sound sweet and hypnotizing when the fundamental is played slowly. For experienced players it may be harder to learn the drop octave at first because their familiarity to the feeling of this range can have them distracted from allowing something totally new to emerge. For beginners this usually isn't a problem because the muscle memory has not developed as much to gravitate towards the fundamental drone as a standard.

Low Keys: D, C#, C, B, Bb

Some people really like to get low and in the world of the multi drone this range is seriously low. This range is very similar to the middle keys for learning the multi drone but of course the drop octave is even harder to achieve at first because it is SO low. The cool thing is the Multl Drone notes between the fundamental and the drop octave become very clear and sweet sounding and may be easier to hit than the drop octave (this is the opposite in the high key range). As Multi Drone instruments the first trumpets are tuned to be very close to the drone and because the drones or so low, the first trumpet note can almost begin to sound like a high drone key. An example is a C drone with an A first trumpet. That A trumpet is the same frequency as a shorter high A drone didgeridoo. This can be be nice for applying vocal harmonies on the trumpet notes. If low is your thing than this is as low as you can get before you start carrying around 15-25 foot didgeridoos.

Afterthought on Keys:

My personal performing collection consists of about 50% of the middle range, 40% high keys and 10% low keys. Gravitate Towards what interests you! Again, what naturally inspires you may take you further than what I or anyone else recommends.

Back Pressure:

Will Thoren DidjeriduIn general these instruments have a high back pressure because the neck bore is usually not larger than an inch in diameter. The mouth pieces are always bigger than the bore to allow for better lip control while still maintaing decent back pressure. 1” to 3/4” is a big difference and the balance of each should be mentioned. If the back pressure is listed as medium it has a larger bore around 1” to 1.25”. This means it may take a bit more “umph” to transition between the notes but the vocals will have more room to project and the overall bass may be slightly more present. For Very high or extremely high back pressure we are referring to somewhere around 3/4” of an inch on the inner bore. This high back pressure makes it easier to transition between notes in the drone and trumpet range. This also helps shredding through fast rhythms. the flip side of the high back pressure is that it holds back the vocals more than a larger bore. Everything in between such as medium/high or high can be determined based on that comparison. You may notice in the audio/video demos that i play all of them with fast, speedy transitions. This is because overall the back pressure on all of these is relatively high and I work on my lip control enough that I don’t need to depend on back pressure to be able to play fast- but it still helps;) check out the Advance Lip Control video on to learn more about moving beyond back pressure.