Best friends and bandmates A.J. Block and Tyler Sussman were your typical jazz musicians when they had a life-changing musical encounter. Not from the experimental tracks of John Coltrane. But by the Didgeridoo.
The Didgeridoo, or didge, for the uninitiated, is an Australian-born instrument made from a hollowed out eucalyptus branch. Its signature sound, a cross between a shofar and a bassoon, makes it the saxophone of spa music.
“I instantly knew that I needed to learn how to play it—it was not just the sound of an instrument, but the sound of the universe,” says A.J., who with Tyler, founded the Didge Project, an organization whose goal is to raise awareness in New York about this healing outback instrument.
You won’t find A.J. and Tyler, who live in Park Slope, playing at the Blue Note. Their venues are yoga classes, reiki circles (a group reiki massage where each person takes turns being healed by the hands of the other participants), and kirtan, a musical jam session involving chanting.
That’s a fit for their sound-healing approach: By simultaneously playing two different Didgeridoos that emit different sound frequencies, for example 60 Hertz and 65 Hertz, they can guide our brains to focus on the slower 5 Hertz frequency created by the difference in those sound waves, known as the pulse beat effect. “This moves the brain to closer to a meditative state,” says Tyler. The sonic boon for us: relaxation!
Curious about sound and vibrational healing? Visit Vira Yoga when A.J. and Tyler play during Elena Brower’s Tuesday noon class, check out their Meditation CD of didge duets for spa-time at home, or spring for a private didge lesson ($75 for a 60-minute lesson) and learn to play one yourself. Just don’t plan on practicing in your apartment. The didge’s rumble (think 6 train passing underneath your bedroom) might send your neighbors on a rampage, if it doesn’t mellow them out first.
Do you find didge or other kinds of music calming or healing? Tell us, here!