Science | How do didgeridoos produce their distinctive sound?

This term sees the beginning of ‘Science Shorts’, a series in which science questions will be answered in approximately 100 words. The first one, all in aid of Australia day, looks at how didgeridoos produce their distinctive sound…

Surprisingly the sound produced is more to do with the person playing the didgeridoo than the actual shape of the instrument. The vibrations from the lips of the player on the mouth piece cause the column of air inside the didgeridoo to vibrate at a certain pitch and as these sound waves travel up and down the inside of the didgeridoo the droning sound is produced. However, as the didgeridoo has no finger holes only one pitch can be produced. So, the sound is created by the player changing the shape of their mouth to produce different notes, and the speed at which they do this creates different rhythms.

Scout Davies

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