A vacuum cleaner tube may not look like a traditional wind instrument, but for musician Randin Graves, it was his first introduction to learning how to play the Australian didgeridoo.
Graves is bringing his vacuum cleaner tube to Star Hall, 159 E. Center St., on Friday, July 27, along with an Australian didgeridoo, for a presentation of “A Personal History of the Australian Didgeridoo.”
Didgeridoos are made from various materials: agave, yucca, hardwood and even plastic tubes. In northern Australia, didgeridoos are made from the termite-hollowed trunks of eucalyptus trees. The vibration of the person’s mouth while blowing through the hollowed trunk — or plastic tube — creates a “rhythmic drone,” Graves said.
During the 90-minute presentation at Star Hall, Graves will tell the story of his journey with the instrument, both as a performer in the United States and Australia. He will explain the basic skills necessary to play a didgeridoo, demonstrate the various ways it may be played to produce different sounds and talk about the Australian culture affiliated with its practice.
Graves immersed himself with Indigenous people in Australian for a year as a Fulbright Fellow. One year led to four more years of immersion, Graves said, during which time he bought instruments from artisans and sold them to the rest of the world.
As a musically-talented child growing up in San Diego, Graves was first introduced to the didgeridoo when a family friend brought him a musical recording of the instrument. He eventually studied at the University of California, where he met someone who played the didgeridoo and decided that he could do that, too.
“I found a vacuum cleaner tube and started learning and never stopped,” Graves said.
Graves is a guest lecturer for an undergraduate world music class at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. As a follow-up to Friday’s presentation, Graves will lead a workshop on Saturday, July 28, at Spanish Valley Vineyards and Winery, 4710 S. Zimmerman Lane, from noon to 2 p.m.
The workshop is open to people at all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, and Graves said he hopes that people who attended his January workshop in Moab will return for more.
“I’ll introduce a lot — even for beginners — that people can run with,” Graves said. “It gets really interesting when complex rhythms are made with it.”
Graves encourages people to bring their own instrument if they have one, or they can use one that he provides on Saturday for the workshop.
Spanish Valley Vineyards and Winery owner Alesia Stripeika said she owns a didgeridoo and has always been interested in learning the different playing techniques. After hosting a successful workshop at the winery in January, she decided to invite Graves back for a second session.
“He does these (workshops) all over,” Stripeika said. “I though Moab would be a good place for it. There are a lot of open-minded people here who like learning about new cultures.”
Graves and the workshop participants are planning to play their didgeridoos at a community potluck at the winery at 6 p.m. following the workshop.
Former Fulbright Fellow shares his experience in Australia
When: Saturday, July 28, noon to 2 p.m.
Where: Spanish Valley Vineyards and Winery, 4710 S. Zimmerman Lane
Info: Call 801-419-9470 or 435-259-8134, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: Seating is limited. Participants should bring their own folding chair.
When: Friday, July 27, 7 to 9 p.m.
Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.
Info: Call 801-419-9470 or 435-259-8134