Whoever has spent some time tuning the didgeridoo has had a nice opportunity to experience how nontrivial task that is.

There are numerous factors which can alter the sound and make tuning a questionable action.

One of the factors is the player and player’s preferences and ability to produce certain sounds, some being as basic as the fundamental drone. For example, if a player tends to produce many high harmonics, that will brighten the sound and make the didgeridoo higher in pitch. And the other way around.

The other very important factor is that certain techniques naturally produce relatively (very) different sound spectrum, and consequently the pitch changes when playing diaphragm beats or soft smooth sounds. Thus if you restrict a didgeridoo to just one player, and one technique played by the player, it will be almost possible to tune this didgeridoo really sharply. But it still wouldn’t make perfect sense.

The reason for that is that the speed of sound changes in different air temperatures, and since didgeridoo pitch is in relation to its shape and the speed of sound, pitch changes with temperature. When it is colder, the speed of sound is lower and the pitch is lower, and if it is warmer, the speed of sound is higher as well as the pitch.

For example, the speed of sound at 20°C is 343m/s, and at 0°C it is around 331m/s. It might not seem drastic, but it can cause tonal differences of about 20-30% of a note, or even more. This means a didgeridoo pitched C at low temperature might become C+20% at +20°C. This very nice example is unfortunately not a formula. It is not difficult to experience such a temperature difference. Just consider an open air concert in daytime and during the night. It can change within hours at the same place. In common didgeridoos, there is nothing you can do about that, every sound you produce is shifted. It is less obvious if you don’t play with other instruments. It is up to you what to do. But read further…

A room in which a didgeridoo is being played can also make a difference, because it makes its own sound equalization. This is a slight factor, but still present. It refers to every instrument, but again, didgeridoo is an instrument impossible to tune like tuning, for instance, a guitar.

What is our conclusion about tuning? What can we do to satisfy all these unsatisfiable demands?

We can decide not to worry about them. One characteristic of didgeridoo sound is that, because of its specific nature, it does not matter to the vast majority of ears if it is out of tune a bit. Since didgeridoo sound is so full of expression and complexity, it often even doesn’t make sense to talk about tuning in the classical manner.

All Duende didgeridoos are reasonably tuned. It means their sound is checked in several rooms, in several temperatures, with a tuner. The sound is rechecked by ear next to a digital piano to hear how it sounds in practice. Duende didgeridoo tuning is done according to Dubravko’s playing [ http://www.lapaine.com/ ].