YIDAKI…a brief guide

Playing the Yidaki

Phil Drummy playing the YidakiPlaying the Yidaki has something in common to playing the trumpet to a degree, except that the lips are left loose while blowing down the instrument. Some people try to think of blowing a "rasberry" down it to initially get the first sound. There are two sounds you'll get at the start. One is a low-pitched familiar drone created with loose lips, and the other is a high-pitched trumpet like sound that's obtained with tight lips. It's important that the lips seal the hole completely. You can experiment with how much bottom or top lip actually is inserted into the opening, but be careful to avoid extremes.

Once you've begun to get a good, steady drone, experiment by moving your tongue around in your mouth while you blow. Try talking as well into the instrument as a ventriloquist does, keeping the lips buzzing and the breath coming so the sound continues. A high pitched yelp is often heard, imitating the dingo, the australian wild dog. The other sounds which are commonly used and many of which are produced by the voice-box, imitate other animals and birds.

You will find, however, that you quickly run out of breath and so, if you feel ready, here is a brief explanation of how the technique of circular breathing works.

Try blowing or squeezing air out of your cheeks by using only the cheek muscles. The instant you start to squeeze, take a breath in through your nose. This does take a bit of concentration and practice, but you'll find that it is possible to inhale while air is being forced out from your mouth. While you are doing this, you may notice that the tongue blocks off the back of your throat. The tongue is in fact used to help "push" out the remaining air in the cheeks. The idea is to restart blowing normally from the lungs until you are ready to snatch another breath of air through your nose. You should try doing all this with a plastic drinking straw, twisted at the end not in your mouth, and a glass of water. (Don't drown!) Blow bubbles by using only the air in your cheeks and inhaling through your nose. The challenge you're eventually faced with is to play the Yidaki and take short breaths with the nose to keep the lungs always semi-filled with air. Just stop blowing with your lungs, inhale quickly through your nose and while doing so, squeeze air out with the cheeks. Immediately start blowing again from the lungs and diaphragm. The skill is to keep the sound going while the source of air for your instrument is changed continuously.
Good luck!


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