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Othello Ravez : Didgeridoo


Oboman : Hautbois d'amour,

Cor Anglais, Clarinette basse

& Electronics

The didgeridoo is a wind instrument in the brass family, originally played by the Aborigines of Northern Australia. Its use could date back as far as the Stone Age (20 000 years). Didgeridoo, didjeridoo, didjeridu or didjeridou, is an onomatopoetic word invented by Western colonists due to the noise made by this instrument. The didgeridoo is generally made from a eucalyptus tree trunk which has been hollowed out naturally along its length by termites.  It varies between 100 and 180 cm in length and its diameter is between 5 and 30 cm. The mouthpiece is made of beeswax to reduce it to a suitable diameter of around 30mm so that it is easy to play.

To play the didgeridoo, the musician makes his lips vibrate like for a hunting horn, Alphorn. The sound, the droning, is produced by a continuous vibration of the lips against the mouthpiece. To create the melodies, there are five sorts of variations from the drone: variation of the pitch of the drone, amplification of the harmonics, rhythmic accents, vocalizations and tooting. In the regions where it is culturally present, the didgeridoo most often accompanies singing and the beat of pair sticks. It is an instrument that is reserved for ceremonies and festivities. The oboe is also a wind instrument, but of the woodwind family! It originated in Mesopotamia in -2800. From 1650 onwards, the Hotteterre and Philidor families, instrument makers, composers, French court musicians, developed the instrument by splitting it into three sections, sharpening its pitch, adjusting the note holes and adding keys. By definitely abandoning the “pirouettes” and the “capsules”, they established the control of the double reed by the lips to express all the sensitivities of the sound. They are considered to be the inventors of the Baroque oboe. The tone of the oboe can be either extremely resonant or on the contrary, extremely gentle : a diversity that is only equaled by the large variety of instruments that come from the different civilizations and the numerous cultures which still use it today : bombard, bagpipes, gaita, hichiriki, zurna, doudouk, tarogato, shehnai, nagasvarams and for the modern-day oboe: musette, Baroque oboe and heckelphone.

In 1664, Jean-Baptiste Lully brought them into the French court of Louis XIV. The oboe accompanied parties, operas, ballets… The 18th century was really the golden age for the oboe. Most didgeridoo players and many oboists use the technique of circular breathing. This enables the musician to play long phrases without interruption, even when breathing in. The didgeridoo and the oboe are instruments of festivities and ceremonies. Obothello adopts for itself the universal principle of the melody and the continuous bass (drone). The sound universe of the duet is made up from classical, jazz or traditional tunes; a cantus firmus gives the pretext for a number of variations and improvisations.

At once, the large sound spectrum which is peculiar to these instruments calls us to order : avoid listening on MP3! Taste fully this plainsong on the Hi-Fi or even better… live! Beyond the fullness of the sound of the duet, the refinement of Obothello is illustrated in the numerous inflections of pitch, the use of ornaments, the subtle rhythmic sequences and the lively exchanges… A wonderful complicity!

Othello Ravez

Contemporary didgeridoo player, multi-instrumentalist: rajasthanaise jimbard, African sanza, percussionist, voice-diphonic singer, Othello Ravez transports the sounds of the world to your ears. For almost twenty years, he has studied the traditional learning of yidaki (didgeridoo) and the western exploration of this instrument in the "modern-didge" style. Driven by the desire to merge the vibration and rhythms of the didgeridoo with current music such as jazz, blues, rock, he developed the Othello Ravez Trios project.

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