Didgeridoo observations often neglect how toots are balanced regarding their loudness, how they are played, what their fullness is, and what tonal relations they make.

Why are toots important?

Toots are the first step of a didgeridoo towards tonal possibilities. The second step is a player’s voice. Toots provide different levels of articulation and are a very important aspect of parallel playing.

As mentioned in the dynamics chapter, when toots are not balanced between themselves and the ground tone, one of them might stand out too much and makes it very difficult to play evened to the end. If it is played in a quiet part of a song, it might create an effect of a firecracker on a holy mass. De gustibus non est disputandum

If one of the toots has a low impedance, which is manifested as low backpressure, it is perceived as lifelessness of sound and feeling of flatness. Apart from the sound aspect, that note will be difficult to play and will repeatedly sound different than other notes both for its unequal spectrum and the extra effort which is hearable in playing. The phenomenon can happen to any toot and depends on the shape of the didgeridoo. One can overcome this relative imperfection to a certain extent by toot techniques of parallel playing. This is because parallel playing involves so much of the player’s body with articulated and focused body movements, that the player becomes dominant over the instrument in a certain manner. Still, if the instrument is a true companion, everything will be easier to play and sound better.

Relations between toots are a whole new chapter in didgeridoo playing. The most important thing to mention here is that there is no wrong or right, but a player can make correct decisions only if he is aware of these relations.

In a way, toots determine whether a didgeridoo is in a major or a minor key. For example, if the first toot is an octave and a minor third above the ground drone and the toot is used frequently, the instrument will lean to a minor scale, calling for melodies in a minor key to be sang over it. There is nothing wrong or right about it, just as there is nothing wrong or right about yellow.

There is a common belief that an octave is the ‘right’ interval between a toot and a fundamental tone. But that is like preferringĀ having only two colours; for example dark blue and light blue. What will you paint with it? And if you have a range of octave and a third, it is like having dark blue and even more light yellow. What can you paint with that? And if you have a range of a sixth, it is like having dark blue and a bit less dark red. What could you paint with this?

Just notice the richness and possibilities in these seemingly limited options. Feel the openness of every note and explore your paints thoroughly. Remember, you can have many palettes only if you provide a home to many of your tubular friends.

Another aspect to notice about the toots is their relative tuning to other toots and the drone. Measure them on a tuner, or even better, listen to their sound. Practice your hearing and listen to them many, many times again.