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UDL history - 1

I saw the didgeridoo for the first time in my life in a small apartment in Amsterdam in April 2001.

Alex (Datura), who is a musician, a sound producer and my friend, told me about the dissimilar Australian culture, when I came to visit him for a few days.

The meeting with the didgeridoo happened in the first evening. Aleksey took a plastic tube and played. The tube was sounding in a rather unusual way. The only thing I was surprised at was the continuous sounding of the instrument (circular breathing-method). The music did not make any impression on me then. In addition a funny thing is that somewhere in Australia termites gnaw eucalypti to make the didgeridoo. It is amusing but nothing more. I came back home and the only thing I kept in mind was that the tube is called the didgeridoo.

A year passed.

Alex came to Russia for a few weeks and brought me a present. It was the bamboo didg. While giving it to me he said: This is for you. Learn to play. Then I saw something long in his hands. It was in a strange cover. There appeared to be two real instruments: the Australian eucalyptus didgeridoo and didjeribone. The eucalyptus didg was taken out of the cover and I saw this unique instrument for the second time in my life. Aleksey started playing. But his playing was different from that I heard before. It was a fascinating rhythm having a great deal of sounds of different timbres. It was astonishing. I had never heard anything similar. My reaction to this situation was predictable. I said: It was you who brought me this instrument and if you are here, teach me to play. Since that event the didgeridoo has become the part of my life. While Aleksey was in Russia I managed to learn the so-called circular breathing and some simple rhythmic exercises.

Then for a year I was leisurely mastering various ways of playing the continuous sound. I spent 10-20 minutes for playing the didg once or twice a week. It continued until my organs of breathing created my own rhythm. It was very simple but it was my first own rhythm. This event became the crucial moment in my relationship with the didg. I felt the rhythm of the didg. Since that moment I have spent more and more time to master the instrument.

In spring 2004 I tried playing the didg with a DJ in a night club. It was Podval in Yekaterinburg. While playing I realized that I needed another instrument. The bamboo didg could not satisfy my new needs any more. I asked Aleksey to find something eucalyptus which could sound well enough but be at a reasonable price. After a time I got my first authentic didg with a rather low key C#. After that there were two attempts to play with DJs (in the night club PV with DJ Raevsky, who is known as DJ CRIPP). After having such experience I realized that I was not ready to play the didg in public and would have to work hard to master the instrument because acoustics, a mike, the manner of playing and other things influenced the sound. Next there was a routine process. I gradually started mastering the possibilities of the instrument. The most difficult thing was that I had nobody to able to help me. It was the period of information shortage. I had no possibility to visit Aleksey in order to train so I was playing as I could do. The didgeridoo is a rich instrument and gives a great deal of possibilities to a performer. Though I had some recordings they could not substitute a real teacher.

Some time passed. My attitude to the didg was changing. I sometimes talked to Aleksey over the phone and sent e-mails to him. Once I realized that it was high time to expand the number of instruments and to try playing in other tonalities. I thought: I have a problem. Where can I get good instruments? The didgeridoos sold in local ethnic shops leave much to be desired. They are mass consumption instruments. They are suitable for training but not for professional playing. I could buy the didg via Internet in Australia but it is a risky undertaking. What am I to do? Eventually I made a decision to make the instrument in Yekaterinburg. The main task was to find a craftsmaster who would agree to develop the model and be ready to experiment.

The fourth important event happened in spring 2005. I met the craftsmaster Anatoly Kutsenko - who agreed to make the instrument. He was very surprised when he was asked to make a strange musical instrument. In Australia these instruments are gnawn by termites but in Yekaterinburg crazy people offer to work as a termite using local wood: maple, birch and alder. I gave Anatoly all the available information by that moment, which could help him in making the instrument, and he went home.

Two months passed. And finally there was a long-expected event: the first Urals didgeridoo was ready (it is displayed under 1 in the gallery). It was a lucky coincidence that Datura was to arrive in Yekaterinburg during those days. There were two meetings on the same day. It was difficult to describe the feelings I had when I took the first Urals model of the traditional Australian instrument. A single look was enough to realize that it was the instrument of high quality: the thickness was precise, the structure of the inside grooves was elaborately cut and excessively correct and the texture of wood (alder) was visible. In short everything was irreproachable but the inner design of the instrument could be simpler than it was. Even if it had not sounded it could be a decoration for any interior. But the didg did sound. The sounding was not perfect. But the instrument was not made of plastic, cow-parsnip or bamboo but wood. The quality of the didg was certainly higher than the quality of the instruments sold in shops. Some corrections concerning acoustics were made to the drawings and Anatoly was asked to make another two instruments. This event is considered to be the birthday of Urals Didgeridoo Laboratory (UDL).