Circular breathing and the didgeridoo
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
J Acoust Soc Am. 2006 Feb;119(2):1194-204.
Vocal tract resonances and the sound of the Australian didjeridu (yidaki) I. experiment.
Tarnopolsky AZ1, Fletcher NH, Hollenberg LC, Lange BD, Smith J, Wolfe J.
The didjeridu, or yidaki, is a simple tube about 1.5 m long, played with the lips, as in a tuba, but mostly producing just a tonal, rhythmic drone sound.
The acoustic impedance spectra of performers' vocal tracts were measured while they played and compared with the radiated sound spectra.
When the tongue is close to the hard palate, the vocal tract impedance has several maxima in the range 1-3 kHz. These maxima, if sufficiently large, produce minima in the spectral envelope of the sound because the corresponding frequency components of acoustic current in the flow entering the instrument are small. In the ranges between the impedance maxima, the lower impedance of the tract allows relatively large acoustic current components that correspond to strong formants in the radiated sound. Broad, weak formants can also be observed when groups of even or odd harmonics coincide with bore resonances.
Schlieren photographs of the jet entering the instrument and high speed video images of the player's lips show that the lips are closed for about half of each cycle, thus generating high levels of upper harmonics of the lip frequency. Examples of the spectra of "circular breathing" and combined playing and vocalization are shown.