From dream to reality, APD is pleased to hold the first exhibition in Portugal dedicated entirely to Yidaki and Australian aboriginal culture. During the FATT, rare and specific specimens from the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka art center in Northern Australia (Arnhem Land) will be exhibited by the musician, scholar and collector Michiel Teijgeler.
Yidaki is a form of the instrument which is played in North East Arnhemland and the Yolngu own the oldest stories on how the instrument came to existence. Yidaki are mostly conical shaped instruments and vary in key mostly between C and G. A perfect Yidaki has a 'toot' about an octave higher than the fundamental and needs no beeswax .
Mago, on the other hand, is more cylindrical in shape than a Yidaki, it has rich harmonics and the toot is absent in this style of music. Mago is the term used in Western and North Central Arnhemland.
There are a lot of different types of Yidaki/Mago and every type stands for a unique name, playing-style and sound character. A certain clan can have several varieties of the instrument, each with their own name and usage in ceremony, song-cycle or ritual. To make it even more complicated, a particular instrument can have a couple of different names, depending on the context.
In aboriginal-music Bilma or clap-sticks are the most important instruments (mostly representing time/law). Besides Yidaki and Bilma there are several other instruments known, mostly being percussion instruments like boomerangs and shaker's. In Northern Queensland, a skin-drum is played.
Out off the 500 different eucalyptus species only about 3 are commonly used for making Yidaki and Mago: Stringy-bark, Bloodwood and Woolly-butt . As you might already know the logs are eaten out by termites (Mastothermes darwiensis).
In tradition there is a big difference between ceremonial and public songs. The hearing/playing of ceremonial songs is often prohibited for the non-initiated while public songs are played for amusement. In general, Yolngu people encourage everybody to try to play Yolngu style and integrate their music into a new style. To some Yolngu it may cause offense if you copy clan songs exactly.
More informations about Yidaki, check www.yidakistory.com
This text is adapted from the originalwritten by Michiel Teijgeler