Why Duende didgeridoos are so long is a good question. They are so long on purpose, not by chance. The answer comes more through experience than by deep physical analysis.

Deep drones.

First of all, Duende didgeridoos grew out of solo didgeridoo playing. When you are solo on stage, your sound is EVERYTHING you have. Therefore, it is understandable that you want it as encompassing as possible. Lower keys tend to be more tender, more powerful, fuller and richer than higher keys. This is somewhat subjective, of course, but this is what experience shows us. Length of didgeridoo is a strong factor of its depth, so Duende didgeridoo are long.

Rich sound.

Long didgeridoos develop their sound in a long path, which can naturally be somewhat more complex than a short path. This complexity hides immense possibilities. Another reason for richness is that a longer path can be a larger resonating chamber. And this can be done without breaking the rules of harmony. This means the only way to make a large chamber in a shorter didgeridoo is to make a very wide bore. And by that, its sound will gain some richness, but it can lose a part of the spectrum or playability due to the drastic shape. With longer didgeridoos, it is possible to maintain volume and still keep a good sound balance, because there is enough space to do it. In addition, there is more space to do some tricks in the inside of the instrument, some more drastic designs and still not go out of listenable territory. Experience has shown that deep didgeridoo sound with some extreme character can be more easily accepted than a higher didgeridoo with such a quality.

World of toots.

Apart from the drone, toots are another element gained from deep instruments. Firstly, they are also deeper, and mellower to the ear. Secondly, by being lower, they are easier to play and they often blend with the ground tone more naturally. Toots in deep instruments possess the sound quality of basic drone to some extent, and therefore allow more texture and harmonic changes. What is more, they allow voice more easily inside itself. Since they start lower and are easier to play, the total number of toots that can be played and effectively used in a song is higher.

Voice possibilities.

The possibility of expressing voice is another advantage of longer didgeridoos. The main cause is purely physical. Lips are not that tightly pressed in lower drones. It is easier to play with open mouth, hence singing with relaxed lips is easier and more fluent than with tight lips. Just notice how increasingly difficult it becomes to sing through higher and higher toots.

Another reason is of a more acoustical/musical nature. We will take a male voice as an example. A great majority of men can sing C at 135Hz, and one octave up from there. Basses, baritones, tenors, and people who don’t have a clue what voice range they have can sing it. If you take an F didgeridoo, it is around 87Hz – a fifth lower than your singing C. So it is closer in frequency to your voice than if you took a C didgeridoo which is an octave lower than your voice. The truth is that a fifth, which is a dominant, will be more hearable than tonic itself sang over the didgeridoo’s drone. But. There is still that one octave, remember? And you can sing a G note over your C didgeridoo to be an octave and a fifth separated from your ground drone, and much, much more hearable than if you separate it only by a fifth. In conclusion, deeper didgeridoos are a more logical bass extension of your voice than higher didgeridoos, regarding an average male voice. This phenomenon is not as emphasized in females due to the different range, but it is still present.

Read more about it in School of skills.

Long didgeridoos and the parallel playing technique.

Regarding all given aspects of long didgeridoos, it becomes obvious they are ideal for parallel playing which is based on strong drone, toots and voice. Duende didgeridoos are even more specially constructed as parallel players, since their maker is a parallel player, and they follow the same path.

Myths about long didgeridoos

Low didges are for slow, meditative playing – this is an ancient didgeridoo story which is simply not true. As a counterexample, take any song from the album Kosmopterix, and consider if you would call this kind of playing low, and all songs are performed on what would classically be called low didgeridoos. The way to play long and deep instruments fast, is conceptually very simple. If you play with your whole body and not just your mouth, you will be able to make the instrument go at the same speed as you. The root of it is in breathing, of course, and it is your starting point in deep didgeridoo exploration. Still, it is not something that can be achieved only by superwomen and supermen, it is a skill available to anyone, it just demands a bit of attention.

Long didgeridoos are difficult to transport – this is partly true. But one should not take it (like anything) dogmatically if one wants to do things in life. The issue of 1.5 or 2 meters in a car is usually solved in a similar way, using back seats. Most cars can transport 2.5 meters from front seat to back seat, and bigger cars can transport more than 3 meters in that position. You just have to accept that you, as the driver, do not usually have such companion(s).