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The harmonic didge

The harmonic didge is an interesting variation on the general opendidge idea and I have been working on it over the last month or so. This variation grew from a desire to make an instrument that can play sequences of notes that are in harmonic relation to each other while using only a minimal number of tone holes. The version of this instrument that has finally emerged is indeed quite simple although it can also be very long…

The instrument that I was playing with last night is 340cm long. The lowest note is a G1 (49Hz) and then subsequently opening the two tones holes one at a time you can play A1, C#2 and E2. The form is purely cylindrical and as it is an open didge you can play all harmonics above each of these base notes. As also is characteristic of the opendidge a few of the overtones may exhibit low back pressure or zero back pressure and are not musically useful. The scale that one can play in the 2nd and higher octaves is based on the Lydian mode with a flattened 7th – the Lydian Dominant scale.

For the moment, the pickup is of the electric buzzer type (costing about 1 euro) which surprisingly in this case can be plugged directly into the high-Z input of an electric guitar amp.. I was amazed especially as the first time I tried I plugged it into a cheap and old and badly treated Vester (50 watt) amp and the sound was really sweet…

The instrument presents many interesting musical possibilities and once I have explored them I will put up a video.

If you want to try to make one you just need 340cm of pipe of internal diameter 25mm and a t-junction (for the mouthpiece). The mouthpiece t-junction should be located 1 metre from one end and there should be a hand-hole 40cm from the same end. The long side should have a second hand hole one metre from the end. You should put a couple of curves in the tube so that both hand holes are reachable when you are in the playing position.

The idea to find an harmonic version of the opendidge was inspired by the Fujara, a harmonic flute that comes from Slovakia. A truly beautiful instrument which also has the form of a long cylindrical pipe with three fingerholes and then from the harmonics has a range of almost 4 octaves based on the mixolydian mode. I am still working on finding the ideal configuration.

Categories: Opendidge
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