Jowandi, Australia: The Dreaming

John Schaefer

By John Schaefer

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Australia: The Dreaming


Like the Japanese music for Zen meditation, the Australian didgeridoo tradition focuses on the breath, and on using breath control as a means to reach another state. In this case, it's the state of affairs known as the Dreamtime, a kind of ongoing Aboriginal creation myth. Aboriginal tradition states that the ancestors sung the world into existence, naming things as they went. These songlines continue to exist, and can be retraced; the naming of animals and places can be evoked and renewed by "playing" their sounds on the didgeridoo. The player sings, barks, chatters, and otherwise animates a branch of eucalyptus which has been hollowed out by termites. The instrument has a sacred place in Aboriginal lore, and in a traditional gatherings, or corroborree, the player (always a male) will lead the singers and bilma (clapping stick) players into the Dreamtime — perhaps the oldest and deepest trance tradition in the world.