Walking through the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, one would expect to hear local bands echoing through the streets, but from one tent comes the sound of a didjeridoo.
Deborah Martin and Preston Scott have been coming to the Arts Festival for eight of the past 10 years, selling their handcrafted didjeridoos.
The didjeridoos, which are made by hollowing out bamboo and cactus, are handcrafted in their home in Carrollton, Ga. There, they own Gnarled Tree Music, where their instruments are sold to the public.
Different than any other instrument, the didjeridoo’s tone depends on the length of the instrument.
“We hollow [the didjeridoos] out and finish [them] inside and out. They’re all toned by length. The short ones are high notes, the long ones are low notes. They’re toned all by pitch,” said Martin.
The rhythm of the tongue and singing into it contribute to the music the didjeridoo makes, she said.
Martin and Scott were not always didjeridoo makers, though.
“We were flute makers, and we’re musicians first. I was a performer at various art fairs and my husband was a wood maker, as well as a music professor,” Martin said.
One day, however, all that changed.
“This guy walked into our flute place with a didjeridoo and asked me to play an E on my flute, and so I did. Then he played an E on his didjeridoo and the music was so beautiful that we could not believe it, and immediately we started making didjeridoos,” said Martin. “We made nine that week and sold all nine of them the next weekend and we’ve never looked back. That was 15 years ago.”
Martin and Scott handcraft every didjeridoo they make.
“We cut the bamboo by hand, so we’re pretty grassroots. We have a friend who cuts the cactus for us.” They also order beeswax from Arkansas to make the mouthpiece of each didjeridoo.
“It takes about a week of continuous method to make a cactus didjeridoo, and two days for bamboo ones,” Martin said. “It’s still a very grassroots operation.”
Besides making their own didjeridoos, Martin and Scott also compose, produce and record original music, according to their website. They tour the country to play their music in addition to selling their didjeridoos.
Martin and Scott will be at the Arts Festival for the duration of the weekend, and more information about their instruments can be found on their website at martinandscott.com.