If the Australian Aborigines were certainly among the first to discover the technique of continuous breathing, the didgeridoo is far from being the only one to use this breathing technique. I offer you a little discovery of traditional instruments also using this good old continuous breath!
The zorna is a widespread instrument in the Middle East and the countries of the East. It is an instrument from the Oboe family which has the particularity of not having a piston.
The launeddas (or konsertu) is a wind instrument originating in Sardinia. It has the particularity of having three pipes which resonate together. It is comparable to the horn-muse, with the difference that the reserve of air is in the lungs of the musician.
The arghoul is an instrument originating in Egypt with a single reed which is reminiscent of the double flute of Rajasthan! Like this one, it produces two simultaneous sounds: a continuous sound (or drone) and the melody.
The doudouk (or Duduk) is an Armenian double reed instrument. In 2005, the doudouk, as well as its music, were proclaimed by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
The double flute of Rajasthan
And the famous double flute of Rajasthan for the regulars of the Rêve de l’Aborigène (see also: The Aboriginal dream: 15 years of memories ). Here played by Pierre-Yves Voisin (for Djoliba) whom I had asked at the time to record for my album Terre inconnue.
Conclusion: the drone do you want some here!
You will have noticed that most of these instruments use a very pinched drone for continuous breath. Thus, with the exception of the double flute all other instruments require a certain pressure to make them sound. The didgeridoo remains the only one to make the player’s lips vibrate, the others using a reed or a double reed. Of course, this list is far from exhaustive! And if you have a curious mind, you will find on Wikipedia’s Continuous Breath page a list of the many instruments playing with circular breathing.
And if you know of other wind instruments like this, give the names in the comments. It is always rewarding to discover instruments!