Yidaki are didjeridus that are specific to north east arnhemland in Australia’s northern territory, where the instrument originates. The term yidaki is used in Yolngu (north east arnhemland aboriginal) languages as the generic name for the didjeridu. The name yidaki is most correctly used for instruments from this region that have been solely made and decorated by Yolngu people.
Yidaki were originally limited to the northern extremes of Australia, in particular arnhemland. In recent years, yidaki spread to other parts of Australia and the rest of the world. Yidaki began to be manufactured in different ways and with different types of materials. It became commonly known as the didjeridu, a non-aboriginal term for the instrument. Through it’s international popularisation as the didjeridu, it has been somewhat displaced from it's spiritual and cultural roots that are still held by the Yolngu in arnhemland today. The Yolngu are masters of making and playing the yidaki and are well known internationally for their quality instruments and complex yidaki playing styles.
Yolngu artists carefully select naturally occuring termite hollowed tree stems which are cut and shaped into suitable sounding instruments. They are made with certain desired acoustics that can vary dramatically between different clans, from high pitch to very low. Typical yidaki have small natural wooden mouthpieces around 30mm in diameter and taper out to a diameter of around 100mm at the distal end. Having a small mouthpiece means they require less air to play and produce sound easily as a result.
In appearance yidaki seem to be a simple instrument, however the playing styles of the Yolngu are complex and require many years of practise. Yidaki are played by vibrating the lips which produces a basic tone. This tone is maintained continually using cyclic breathing and is varied through use of the playing pressure, the tension in the cheeks, the use of the diaphragm, the tongue position and the use of the voice.
Traditionally, yidaki are painted with naturally occuring red, white, black and yellow earth pigments. In recent years acrylic paints began to be used. Both the artwork and the sound and overall style of the yidaki denote cultural history and law. Yolngu artists produce yidaki for sale through their community owned not-for-profit art centre, Buku Larrnggay Mulka (Yirrkala arts).
Jeremy Cloake was employed by Yirrkala arts in 2001 to manage yidaki production and sales. His work together with the yidaki makers was instrumental in the development of the international yidaki industry. Between 2001 and 2005 he worked closely with the Yolngu yidaki makers on site in the forests and at the art centre. The result of this work boosted the annual exports of yidaki so significantly that the Northern Territory government presented the art centre with two export awards over consecutive years.
Jeremy currently works in association with Yirrkala art centre as the manager for the production and sales of yidaki from north east Arnhemland. This job involves purchasing, selling and freighting yidaki on behalf of Yirrkala art centre. Jeremy Cloake supplies many businesses throughout the world with yidaki. The complete list of international yidaki retailers can be seen here. These businesses are recommended retailers of yidaki as they purchase through Yirrkala arts which ensures the aboriginal artists are paid well for their work.
Jeremy occassionally sells some of his own yidaki. Click on the images for instruments currently for sale. All of these instruments come with certificates of authenticity. If you are interested in selling yidaki as part of your business, wholesale enquiries are welcome. If you are after a specific yidaki and cannot find it, ask Jeremy to source it for you. For more information about yidaki visit: www.yirrkala.com.
"I am really enjoying getting to know my new Yidaki, I feel a strong connection through it as if it is specific for my playing. The design and paintwork looks great and the weight is just right. All round an excellent Yidaki. Thank you." Carl, Aotearoa.
"Dear Jeremy, the didji is arrived, just in time to bring it with me on holidays! The sound is really high exactly as I wanted, thanks!!" Lorena, Italy.
"Thank for the excellent packaging, wonderful instruments, and gifted CDs. Working with someone of your consistent high integrity and professionalism is a real blessing." Colin Goring, England.
"Powerful sound and rich, plenty of backpressure, easy to play... beauty !!! All the best and thank you." Nik, Aotearoa.
"I am most grateful of Jeremy's involvement with the selection of our instruments. Since Jeremy's involvement with the selection process the quality and standard of yidaki has improved beyond belief. Not only is he a superb player, his ability ot scrutinize our exact requirements with a helpful patient approach and all the extra services offered, is a blessing indeed." Melina Shirvanian, Australia.
"Just to let you know that I received the yidaki yesterday. Just what I wanted, fantastic. Thanks again for your assistance." David Thorpe, Australia.
"The yidaki is now at home! It's a very nice piece! The sound and the playing very very nice. If I give a bit much pressure the sound goes out of the nice range. Thank again to search and find out for me such a nice yidaki. All my gratitude." Bruno, Italy.
"Hello Jeremy, the yidaki just arrived, it's very impressive, it's very very easy to play (the easiest i've ever experienced) and the sound is absolutely what I prefer. Many thanks!! Bart, Belgium.
"Hi Jeremy, the yidaki arrived yesterday. It´s a really nice instrument which makes a lot of fun to play (hard to play not too much). All the best." Claus Heckl, Germany.
"The Yidaki is delivered in excellent condition and it sounds really great :) It has the 'special' sound what I´m looking for, but I have to train to generate it. I`m surprised of the power and the resonance of this 'small' stick :)" Andreas Faatz, Germany.
"First impression: ... ... ... ...!!!!!!! Second impression, Wauw! Now this is what I like! A well balanced instrument with story and some weight to it. It plays like a dream, and keeps drawing new rythms that I never played before. A perfect addition to my personal collection, this one I am going to keep, that's for sure!"
Michiel Teijgeler, The Netherlands.
"I really, really enjoy playing the F yidaki, is quite easy to play, and has a wonderful warm sound, quite amazing, so little wood, and so much character, also the toot on this one is absolutely marvelous, I can really get the long soft changing toots happening on this one ... a real pleasure to play, and I can play it indoors better, cause it is not as loud..." Ray, Austria.
"After having cautiously played just a bit I can fully understand that you will miss it, one of your favourite yidaki. Yes, it`s very easy to play, the backpressure is excellent, it is very resonant and sooo clear in sound, the transition to the horntones are easy to blow. The acoustics are dark, earthy and very balanced, tongue accents respond with soft-edged wielding THUDS! Great! Additionally, the artwork is really lovely, even beautiful. So thank you again, Jeremy, this yidaki I will keep in respect of the Yolngu culture." Carl, Germany.
"It's AWESOME!!!! A wonderful and magic yidaki. After playing it for a few minutes, my mind felt calm and peaceful... I really like it! and yes you are right, it teaches me pressure control and playing power! :) I think, it is a very good fit for me and exactly the right thing for what I am currently exercising." Matthias, Switzerland.
"Very nice indeed, my brother! The Yali Mununggurr you sent me is a dream. Playing him more and more it become better and better and always with some surprises. Thanks for that." Bruno, Italy.
"Dear J the Yidaki arrived yesterday in perfect condition. I put a bit of wax and I just tried to play it for a minute. It's, as you told me, a warm and rich sound and he is holding the high pressure. Very nice to play and to be in contact with. Thanks for that." Bruno, Italy
"I have to say that I played a few again and I like your Yidaki more and more. This one is a dream, sweet and also likes the power. Love." Bruno, Italy.