By Baileigh Rebowe | LSU Student
What does a married couple from a small town in Georgia and the indigenous aboriginal tribes of Australia have in common?
Love of the didjeridoo.
The didjeridoo, a 1,500-year-old long-necked wind horn commonly used to accompany dancing and singing at Aboriginal ceremonies, has become a staple in the daily lives of the couple.
Deborah Martin and Preston Scott, from Carrollton, Georgia, presented their homemade and hand-painted didjeridoos recently at the Fest for All art and music festival in downtown Baton Rouge.
Both are traveling musicians who play a handful of instruments each. The couple began making the flute and other instruments when they were married some 25 years ago. A friend introduced them to the didjeridoo and they fell in love with the combined sounds of the flute and didjeridoo.
"We weren't familiar with the instrument, but after learning how to play it, we were amazed at how easy it was and what we were missing," said Martin. "The flute and the didjeridoo are the two most ancient voices on the planet; the sound of them together is one that will change the world."
To better understand the music behind the ancient instrument, the couple spent seven weeks in Australia studying the Aboriginal people and the didjeridoo.
This is where they became fascinated with the construction of the instrument. After learning the specifics from a friend, the two took on the venture of not just playing the didjeridoo, but manufacturing and selling them, as well.
The process is complicated and the hours long, according to Martin. They produce about 20 didjeridoos a week, working 8-10 hours a day.
An agave cactus stem is hollowed out and the outside sanded and covered with a finish. The mouthpiece is made of beeswax from a honey farm. The stem is hollowed out to produce the sound, according to the pair. Because the Australian Aboriginal people live in an area where termites are prominent, most all materials are hollow.
The didjeridoos are hand-painted with an assortment of colors and sold at festivals and markets for $75 to $1,100 with the average price at $350.
Martin said that is time to return to that time when musicians built their own instruments and find the origin of the sound. "The didjeridoo is a culture, a voice and an expression of the soul that when we listen closely, we hear. That's art."
The couple own and operate Gnarled Tree Didjeridoos and Music Company out of their home. They compose and record original music, as well as make other instruments. The duo is seeking a vendor's both at the New Orleans Jazz Fest next year. For further information, visit http://www.martinandscott.com/.