Gregory Zwingesltein, A story of passion
Gregory, how did you meet didgeridoo?
Unwittingly adventurer, Gregory Zwingelstein turned his passion for didgeridoo into a unique experiment. Let’s meet the one who gave life to what would have remained a dream.
That was in high school, in 1999. A professor was coming back from Australia and introduced us to this instrument. I had never heard such a sound. I was really vibrating. Then, I began my initiation to didgeridoo with him and it fast became a passion, almost a necessity.
And you simply crossed the planet to get to its roots…
While learning, I also discovered the aboriginal culture. I wanted to learn to make this ancestral instrument according to the rule book. In Europe, there was nothing going around. And at that time, except maybe on When you gonna learn by Jamiroquai, we did not hear any didgeridoo.
After my studies, I began to work in the car industry but I was still thinking about meeting aborigines. I saved up and I took advantage of the summer recess to leave in 2007.
Not easy to approach Aborigines. How did you arrange the trip and the meeting?
This teacher became a friend and thanks to him, I targeted the birthplace of the instrument where traditions are protected. He gave me information and his contacts.
Honestly, I played it by the nerve. I like taking risks, going there, seeing and living. Having landed to Darwin, I took a small plane to Gove, in the middle of nowhere. A big leap in the dark because my objective was the traditional festival of Garma dedicated to didgeridoo, taking place… almost one week later.
Meanwhile, I did not know what to do. I dared to hitch. I was oblivious to the danger of crossing alone the Northern Territories. And I have been so lucky! An aborigine who was going to participate in the same animation as me on the festival went that way. He welcomed me at his home during the preparation of the festival. He was an “older”, one of the most respected. And we forged real links.
And finally, you stayed a while?
Yes. After the festival, I was able to stay in his clan. I wanted to learn to make myself the instrument (that we call over there Yidaki or Mago, according to tribes) but I first learnt to understand their lifestyle, their way of communicating, of thinking, their world view.
And I met the husband of his daughter. Our relation was strong at once. He “adopted” me in the aboriginal sense. It means I have the right to live near them and to apply the rules of the clan. He gave me an attractive name: Djapana (the dream of the sunset). Today, I can venture into the bush to cut didgeridoos and shape it with them.
Tell us a few specifics of the Aborigines’ culture…
Their concept of time is vague. What is said is always made when they consider that time has come.
They wait a kind of spiritual call.
Their notion of property is different from ours. They mostly care to the notion of origin. All that belongs to the earth returns to the earth. It raises some problems in terms of waste and pollution because consumable goods nevertheless take place in their daily lives. Symbolism is powerful in their life. Every tribe has its own ancestors, came to earth to create the world. They celebrate them through natural, daily and undated events. And there, the instrument takes its full place. Every ceremony gathers at least 3 persons: singer, player of clapstick and of didgeridoo. Sounds and songs vary, based on oral transmission. But they always occur in the same order: singer, clapstick then didgeridoo.
When you came back, you created Didgeridoo Passion, and soon a festival?
I created Didgeridoo Passion to value the original instrument and the aboriginal culture which created it. Yidaki is now well known in Europe but in ways that often have nothing to do with the soul of this subtle instrument. I play an advisory and messenger role, mix of ethics and music. Through this activity, I gathered a musicians’ network of the whole world.
They all will be playing at the first French festival of didgeridoo, end of June 2018. It will take place in Nomad-Elze in the Causses.
I then hope to organize a tour of aboriginal traditional groups. And continue to propose Yidakis of quality.
Thank you Gregory!
For more information:
Visit Grgeory’s website didgeridoo-passion
About the festival Nomadidge