Didgerdoo players’ glottic activity – the lowdown

An Australian didgeridoo is a reed-less hollow conically shape wooden tubular wind instrument typically measuring up to 150 cm in length, with distal and proximal diameters ranging from 150 to 30 mm. But what, exactly, happens to someone’s glottis whilst they are playing a didgerdoo?

One way of finding out is to make a video of their vocal-fold activity by using a mini-camera and associated fibre-optic cables inserted via their nose. Just such an experiment has recently been performed by a research team from the Pacific Voice and Speech Foundation, San Francisco, US.

“The data presented here comprises (as far as we were able to determine) the first ever physiologic account of vocal fold activity in a didgeridoo player observed with help of trans-nasal endoscopy.”

Based on the preliminary results of analysis of the recorded video(s), the team conclude that :

“…didgeridoo playing introduces alternations both to the phonatory component, and to the ventilatory components. Further studies utilizing aerodynamics, EGG and stroboscopic visualization are planned.”

See their paper, which was presented at the XX Annual Pacific Voice Conference, and published in the Proceedings of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) 8207, 82072U (2012) ‘Visual observations of glottic activity during didgeridoo performance’.

A full version of the paper can be found here:

BONUS video An expert didgeridoo player in full swing.