Didgeridoo is often believed to function only in the realms of its drone, which means everything you play is done through lip vibration.

It is easy to show that this is not true, but where are the secret masteries of this non-vibrational-lips world?

One path to go is the beatboxing path…

There is nothing wrong with this path, but the following approach does not take you there, for it searches for a stronger connection between the player and the instrument.

This path of discovery is the practice of partially stopping lips. One – maybe first – contact where you can experience it is during strong jaw inhales. Try to notice that while inducing stronger and stronger lip tension in these jaw motions, there is a space between ground drone and toot that does not make lips vibrate. By varying different “wrong” pressures, you can make different textures. From there you can go a bit further to over-relax your lips during the whole process of inhalation and reduce the texture of the drone, emphasizing the sound of the mouth movements.

As the first example, you can listen to the undroned parts of Divljak, and as the latter example, you can listen to the end of fast parts of Lake of Awareness. [ http://dubravkolapaine.bandcamp.com/track/lake-of-awareness ] A bit more advanced technique is if you stop the lips in a detailed manner, making small sounds of lips connected to small diaphragm movements. This is where your diaphragm and lips have to be synchronized even more. What you get from this technique is a strongly emphasized “pock!” from transients of lip motion. It even often sounds as some other-than-didgeridoo instrument. You can hear examples of this in songs like “Point of Line”. [ http://dubravkolapaine.bandcamp.com/track/point-of-line ]

The last and most esoteric technique is to sync your diaphragm, your throat, the back of your tongue and your lips. The lips are stopped in vibration from the normal air stream, but they are triggered by a bit stronger turbulences made by the diaphragm, and cut by a snatch of the throat and root of tongue. In the end, what comes through the lips has a feeling of vibration, but with a sense and quality of coming from a much deeper instrument. The volume of every sound plopping out of lips this way is HUGE if used correctly with close miking or a compressor, and the possibilities of openness of such a sound picture are truly extraordinary.

Listen to the main transition in Korvo Eksaltiko and you will hear the example.  [ http://dubravkolapaine.bandcamp.com/track/korvo-eksaltiko ] In the time of writing, the still unpublished Blood of the Universe and Featherdust also embody this technique.

Don’t worry if you don’t understand parts of this text. Spend some more time with the instrument and then read again, as many times as needed, and you WILL get it!