It was an interesting weekend of randomness for me and Rich, which started early in the morning with him picking me up in order to head down to London. Unfortunately the SatNav decided it didn’t want to work in Mum’s car, so we ended up opting to drive to Hendon and get the Tube into the capital rather than driving straight to our destination as had been our original plan, and thus encountering the dreaded phrase “rail replacement bus service” as part of the Northern line was closed for maintenance.
The first port of call we had was the Aboriginal Arts studio in Stratford, East London – due to the travel issues we were a little later than planned, but our genial host Colin was completely non-phased by this. We headed down into his basement studio for me to have a didgeridoo lesson – which was a present Rich bought me for Christmas! Rich cunningly managed to get a few goes on the didges as well, and proved to be pretty much a natural when it came to getting a good drone going!
Colin is an excellent teacher, patient and assuring as I struggled my way through playing – it was great to get a chance to play some of his excellent and authentic instruments, all of his didgeridoos are sourced via fair trade and made using the traditional methods of the Australian Aboriginal people – ie, they find a tree that has been hollowed by termites and use this as the base of their instrument, rather than a mass produced one. So in a way, it as a mixed blessing that my own didge (a teak mass-produced one) had to stay in the car rather than come with us on the Tube, as we got to have a go on plenty of probably the best quality instruments available in the UK.
Reassuringly the basics I’d taught myself were okay, but Colin wasted no time in teaching both Rich and I a few rhymic tricks as well as using our voices to create all manner of peculiar sounds – some of which were quite pleasing! So that’s made me decide to put some time in to practice some more now, and also to try to master circular breathing – which I can actually do, but seem to have a mental block when it comes to doing it whilst actually playing the didge – this is just a case of practicing to force your mind into realising it’s possible – as it defies logic in many ways. Circular breathing enables you to play constantly rather than just whilst you have breath!
So yes, watch this space – if I can make some decent progress then I may well opt to revisit Colin for a bit more guidance and potentially get myself a new didge – as the spectacular array of instruments he let us play were so much easier compared to mine, and the sound quality of them was something else – but I don’t want to go splurging money on something without knowing if it’s something I’m going to be able to get much better at. Hopefully that should be the case!
Whilst there we both also picked up a jaw harp each, which is a traditional Vietnamese instrument and makes some great sounds – and rather pleasingly is made from an old gun cartridge which has good karma – the reconstruction of a mechanism of destruction into something that can be used to create great sounds is something that feels quite a nice thing, I think!
After the didge lesson, and a fantastic breakfast at nearby Cafe Mondo, we hotfooted it back onto the Tube to head over to Dagenham where the Daggers were taking on Peterborough – two form teams in League Two – it promised to be a good game, and it was a ground neither Rich or I had been to before. So after a beer in the members club attached to the ground, we opted for the open away end with the Peterborough fans and looked forward to an entertaining game, which wasn’t forthcoming! The most exciting moment of the first half was the till-roll assault the Posh fans chucked onto the pitch, and the Peterborough players then clearing it up!
There was a mental queue for the tiny tea bar at half time, but I was rewarded with a tasty burger with bacon and cheese, and a cup of Bovril, whilst Rich had a pot noodle and some decent chips with curry sauce! After the Posh had snagged a couple of goals we decided to leave early, as it was frankly a dull match and it made us less scathing about the dull football we watch at Forest – it transpires we missed three more goals! I’m not sorry, though!
I’ve had a didge practice today, I still can’t work out how to ‘toot’ on my didge at all – but some of the other rhythmic and voice things are going quite well. Colin has very helpfully recorded a number of tutorials he’s uploaded to YouTube, so when I get a chance to spend a bit of time I shall be going through those and trying to develop my skills a bit more, and pick up ideas from some of the footage he has also added of numerous notable didge players practicing their art.