Unique Instrument Inspires Musician’s Trip to the Other Side of the World

Jul 25, 2018, 5:43 PM | Updated: 9:22 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Randin Graves heard a sound – a low buzzy electric drone – and it changed his life.

He was in music school – training to be a film composer, the next John Williams – and was diverted by that sound. It took him to another hemisphere.

It was the sound of a didgeridoo, a long wooden tube of a musical instrument played by the Australian Aborigines.

Graves decided he wanted to be a didgeridoo “star.” So he practiced, he formed a band, he toured and he produced CDs.

Randin Graves teaches retired psychotherapist Roger Christensen.

But when people started asking if he was Australian and if he knew Aborigine people, he says he realized, “I was unintentionally representing something.”

So Graves went to Australia, eventually on a Fulbright scholarship. He studied the instrument and how it was spreading across the world outside of the control of the people of northern Australia.

He learned the didgeridoo’s place in what he calls “the origin.”

“It would be like the piano or organ at church,” Graves says. “It’s the companion instrument for song, for traditional dance.”

After several years in Australia, personal circumstances brought him back to the United States.

Graves says he no longer wanted to play the way he once did. He didn’t want to be a didgeridoo “star.” He wanted to teach and educate. He wanted to contribute more to an informational website he developed while overseas.

“Now when I listen (to the didgeridoo) I have more of that connection, I have more of the place,” said Graves. “For me it’s now about something to bring people together, something to be shared.”

Randin Graves prepares for a funeral ceremony for his adopted “brother” in Northern Australia. Graves, who lived in the outback for several years, says the Aborigines have an elaborate kinship system.

Randin Graves will present “A Personal History of the Australian Didgeridoo” Friday, July 27, 2018 at 7:00 pm at the Historic Star Hall, 159 East Center St. in Moab and again at the Marmalade Library, 280 West 500 North in Salt Lake August 18 at 3pm.

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Unique Instrument Inspires Musician’s Trip to the Other Side of the World