When someone asks about the ‘culture of your country’, what would be the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the food; or the traditional clothes; or perhaps the practices that our elderly maintained till this day? All of these answers are quite true. However, for Matthew Doyle, an aspect of his Australian indigenous culture appeared when he talks passionately to Sutera regarding his love for indigenous songs of his country – along with a particular fondness of a special instrument, the ‘Didgeridoo’.
Matthew Doyle is an Australian-born indigenous performer who became fascinated by his country’s rich culture in his early years. His curiosity for Australian indigenous music eventually led him to discover an instrument called the ‘Didgeridoo’. It was only when he attended NAISDA, a college for the performing arts, that he learned how to play the Didgeridoo along with songs, language and dances. He mentioned that passing these traditions to the students is one way to keep their culture everlasting, as well as diversifying it with some modern songs along the way.
“They all work together. You can’t have music without dancing, and you can’t have dancing without singers or the stories we tell about. They should all come together!” he said.
For the Australian performer, his instrument of choice belongs to the wind family. The Didgeridoo, or Yiraki, is one of the oldest instruments in the world. The instrument is made from different species of the Eucalyptus tree. The makers would often venture into the jungles to find hollowed out trees that were eaten by termites; these barks were then cut and cleaned before they are ready for use. The Didgeridoo used to only be played by the males of Northern Australia; now, it became widespread to all parts of the continent as well as other countries. Matthew encourages interested people to learn via taking online classes, watching videos or even better, to visit Australia itself.
“As I said, the internet has everything. There are people who teach and give lessons on how to play the instrument. But, anybody who is serious in learning how to play the Didgeridoo should go to Australia to learn about the instrument and culture from the people,” he added.
During his three/four days stay in Brunei, Matthew was busy experiencing the local television, radio station, and performing at the Australian high commissioner’s residence. He also had the opportunity to meet the Dusun people to share food and exchange facts about their instruments. While discussing challenges that are faced by traditional music, he encourages the younger generations to have more exposure to the cultural side of their own country.
One fact that he found delightful would be during his workshop session with our gulingtangan group from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD). He commented on the ample amount of young people playing their instrument with contemporary music while still preserving the traditional folk tunes along. He said that it was really pleasing to see them performing on stage.
This was Matthew’s first time in Brunei and he had experienced great wonders with the people here. In his last remarks, he wished to revisit Brunei sometimes in the near future while also bringing more fellow indigenous musicians and dancers. He hoped to showcase more of the Australian culture in Brunei Darussalam.