Charlie McMahon’s prosthetic ‘hook’ arm was the result of a teenage rocket hobby accident but his desire to experiment has led him to invent new concepts in playing didjeridu, such as the pitch change didjeribone, which have enhanced the potential for didjeridu in contemporary music. Indigenous artists like Mark Atkins call Charlie ‘tjilpi’ (elder) for his contribution and some respect is due to his 58 years playing experience, much of it in times when Aboriginal artistic culture was ignored or discouraged by mainstream Australia.
In partnership with his long time friend Tjupurru, 14 000 didjeribones made in Australia have been sold, mainly as exports. Charlie has recorded 10 albums, across a range of genres from the hard electro ‘Bone Man’, ambient ‘Xenophon’ and jazz orchestral ‘Travelling Songs’. Charlies motto is simply “didj playing is healthy”, a claim supported by recent clinical trials which have proved that the rhythm breathing learned in playing didj is effective for the respiratory ills asthma & apnoea. A look at Charlies you tube videos shows his breathing on the didj is extraordinary and much fun.
Charlie’s diverse career has had some interesting moments. His Gondwa band played as opening act for Prime Minister Keating’s seminal Redfern Speech in 1992 that paved the way for reconciliation and Charlies water bore drilling work in the Western Deserts led to first contact with a family nine Pintubi who had no prior contact with the outside world.
Career Highlights and Achievements
● Right arm severed in a rocket hobby explosion at home Blacktown 1967
● Discovered ‘the Pintipi nine’ in 1984, a family of first contact Aborigines living a traditional life in the Great Sandy Desert.
● Performed as support act for the ‘Redfern Speech’ in Redfern Pk 1992 where Prime Minister the right hon Paul Keating apologised to Aborigines and advocated reconciliation.
● Recording manufacture and marketing of 10 music cd’s www.charliemcmahon.com
● ARIA Best Indigenous Record 1988.
● Location Guide and remote area logistics for Midnight Oil ‘Diesel & Dust’ tour 1987
● Location guide & actor for film ‘Until the End of the World’ by director Wim Wenders
● Live performance on David Letterman’s ‘The Late Show’ NY 1995
● Performance tours of Europe, UK. Russian Federation, Ukraine South Africa and Japan between 1990 and 2012
● Sydney Youth Orchestra performed my symphonic composition ‘Swarm’ at the official Australia Day lunch Darling Harbour 1999
● Authored the chapter ‘Termites and the Ecology of Didjeridus’ in The Didjeridu Phenomenon. Traumzeit-Verlag ISBN 3-933825-42-3
● Inventor of Didjeribone™ a pitch shift didjeridu. In year 2000 directed the design, factory production and marketing of the instrument. With sales of 14000 units Didjeribone Pty Ltd is a company with Indigenous artist Tjupurru www.didjeribone.net
● Inventor and producer of the Face Bass a seismic audio sensor for electronic interface with mouth instruments www.rhythmorganizm.com
● Performed at opening ceremony Sydney Para Olympics.
● Mentor, Department of Education & Training, Talent Development Programme for exceptional Secondary music students 2008.