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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2004 (July-September) » Archive through September 27, 2004 » OT: Bodhrans « Previous Next »

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Aingeal
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Username: Aingeal

Post Number: 3
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 09, 2004 - 08:00 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

This is a little off topic but I was curious if there are any bodhran players on the forum? I had my first experience playing the bodhran at a Daltaí weekend in May. I really liked it and was hoping to find someone to ask a few questions to.

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James
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Username: James

Post Number: 21
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 07:58 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I've been beating away at mine for a few years now. I don't claim to be any good at it, though! If you have any basic questions, I'll do my best to answer them.

I've got clearance from the spousal authority to attend the February event. I'll bring my bodhran and fiddle. Then again, maybe I shouldn't if I ever want to be welcomed back to another weekend!!!!

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Aingeal
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Username: Aingeal

Post Number: 4
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 11:34 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Well first off, how did you learn to play? Did someone teach you or did you have a video instruction thing?

Second is I saw a beautiful bodhran and it had a screen print of a Celtic Cross on it, wouldn't playing the drum wear the print off it? Or doesn't that typically happen?

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Aonghus
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Username: Aonghus

Post Number: 127
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 12:17 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hardened bodhrán players don't use printed bodhráns. They're only for the tourists

BTW: Séamus Ennis is credited with saying that the best way to play a bodhrán was with a penknife.

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Cara (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 24.185.210.123
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 01:02 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

It was in the early 70's in Belfast. A dark and stormy night (what else). When into a bar in a Republican neighborhood came a tall dark stranger who had a huge bag on his back. A deep fearful silence fell on the crowd. Finally the barman mustered enough courage to ask the swarthy stranger "What is that you have in the bag?"

"Gelignite" said the stranger.

"Oh thank God," said the barman. "We thought it was a bodhran."

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Poblachtach
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Username: Poblachtach

Post Number: 8
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 01:57 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Aingeal ,
I have been playing and teaching ( informally ) for a few years now so heres a little resume of the how to's , the do's and the dont`s .

I am assuming from your post that you have just bashed a bit but not really played before so I am going to be very basic in my explantions.

First the cipin ( the beater , the stick )
you should hold it as if it was a pen you were going to write with then turn your wrist so that the 'nib' end so that it is pointing at your torso.

It will feel strange at first but will become 2nd nature quickly.

Now the bodhrán ; for now just hold it by the supporting brace if it has one , if not place your thumb at the top of the inside of the skin but dont place your hand on the skin ( yet ) YOu should ideally be sitting to play . Place the bodhrán under your armpit but make sure you dont smother too much of it with your torso. This should feel comfortable, if it is not shift untill you find your own comfort zone.

Hold the cipin over the bodhran about an inch from the skin.

If you imagine the front of the skin as a clockface ( and you are holding the cipin as I said earlier ) then hold the cipin as if you were pointing to 9 oclock.

this should be your starting position every time you pick up the bodhrán.

Practice that before going on with the rest of this post. ( youl be wasting your time otherwise )

Im assuming youve tried what I said and are now feeling comfortable with the position.
so lets go on

With your cipin pointing to 9 oclock twist your wrist so that the cipin moves downwards ( this is the only part of your arm that should be moving , the elbow may move but only as a reaction to your wrist moving and becuase your whole arm , especially the wrist is EXTREMEMLY relaxed, do not attempt to play with stiffness in any part of the arm becuase not only will the sound be clanky but you will also do damage to your tendons eventually )
The downstroke is executed by starting the move at 9 oclock , hitting the skind at 7 oclock and ( important ) carrying on the movement so that you stop at 6 oclock.

try hitting four downbeats using this method.Again if you are serious about progressing practice it before carrying on reading.

It may feel akward at first but percievere, try to make the beats even , think of a song you know and try to play a simple 4\4 accompaniment , keep it basic. 1 2 3 4 , all downstrokes.

When you can get a flow going with those strokes and it sounds acceptable ( if your inside hand is placed correctly you should be gettng a nice bassy sound ) then try placing an accent on one of the beats by hitting it a little harder than the others .
ie

ONE two three four
or
one two THREE four ,

that way you give a bit of feel to the rythmn .
that is enough for now , if you are interested I will visit back and explain the slightly more akward upstrokes and other cool stuff like triplets and jig rythmns etc

one word of advice , please dont try to sit in on a session just yet with the knowledge you have , the folks who learn their first couple of things on the bodhrán and then try their repetoire out in sessions are the folks who cause those nasty 'bodhrán player jokes' to be so ubiquitous.
happy bashing !

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Aingeal
Member
Username: Aingeal

Post Number: 5
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 12:39 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Go raibh maith agaibh for the input all.

Aonghus - I figured as much. but do you play w/ a penknife in the same way you'd play w/ the cipin?

Poblachtach - Go raibh mile maith agat for the instructions. You're right I never really "played" before, I just learned a few simple strokes. I found holding the beater very awkward at first but I got used to it quickly and I seemed to pick up the wrist motion. Thanks for the caution, I already have quite a degree of carpal tunnel and tendonitis in my wrists. I'd never dream of sitting in on a session, I wouldn't want to embarass myself that way.

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Pádraig
Member
Username: Pádraig

Post Number: 7
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 03:14 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Aonghus and Aingeal,

Are you two putting each other on?
Or is Aonghus putting Aingeal on with Aingeal taking Aonghus seriously?
Or is Aonghus being serious with Aingeal putting Aonghus on?
Or are the two of you being serious?

I know nothing of the subject, but I assumed the business of a penknife involved going at the drum skin with the knife blade open. Judging from the story about the gelignite, apparently many persons find bodhrán bashing rather annoying.

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Poblachtach
Member
Username: Poblachtach

Post Number: 10
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 07:06 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A phadraig , I dont think its bodhrán playing that is annoying , it is the tendency that some 'players ' have for bashing away with no regard to whats going on around them musically . There are some cracking players out there who defintely add to the richness of trad music.
There is a pro -bodhran joke I heard once , i think it was invented just to fight back at all the negative gags going around.

whats the difference between a bodhrán player and a prostitute?

A prostitute only has to work with one prick at a time.

AIngeal , im not sure if you are saying you found the info about playing helpful or not or if you are already passed the stage of learning ?

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Pádraig
Member
Username: Pádraig

Post Number: 8
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 07:50 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Lest I be misunderstood -- I have no problem with the bodhrán; in fact I know so little about the subject that I'm not even sure that fada belongs over the A, and I couldn't tell whether the penknife remarks were jokes.

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Aingeal
Member
Username: Aingeal

Post Number: 6
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 09:30 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I found it helpful, I haven't passed any stage of learning w/ the bodhran. The first and only workshop I was at covered how to hold the beater and bodhran and taught a few basic strokes, most of which I forgot. I haven't purchased a bodhran yet, but I am considering it. I just liked it so much. It suprises me that so many people make the jokes or don't seem to like the bodhran, I think it sounds wonderful especially accompanied by other traditional instruments.

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PAD (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 12.76.14.207
Posted on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 09:57 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Aingeal - The bodhran is wonderful as a backup to other instruments indeed. It's a big part of traditional music. The jokes are a result of people just thumping away without any sense of the rhythm and tempo of the piece being played. Too many people think the purchase of a bodhran is all it takes to be a musician. Listen to some of the CDs by traditional groups and you'll hear what I mean. And then go to a seisuin and hear the dull thuds and thumps of the total amateur.

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Aonghus
Member
Username: Aonghus

Post Number: 129
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 04:33 am:   Edit Post Print Post

The penknife remark was a joke.

The bodhrán is an easy instrument to play - badly.

Sessions with good musicians can be easily ruined by an enthusiastic but tone deaf bodhrán "player".

Certainly, it is hard to surpass a well played bodhrán.

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Poblachtach
Member
Username: Poblachtach

Post Number: 11
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 07:46 am:   Edit Post Print Post

ok , as long as Im not boring the arse off of anyone I will continue ..........

Now that you know how to do a basic downstroke lets look at the upstroke.
This feels strange and can be a bit tricky to the beginner but as always a wee bit of perciverance ( I promise to learn to spell this word correctly one day ) will get you there.
Just as with the downstroke , imagine the clockface again. This time you will be starting at 6 oclock hitting the skin at 7 oclock and finishing th e move at 9 0clock. when you first try this you will probably find the beater just scraping the skin instead of hittng it properly. To rememdy this try to imagine you are hitting an inch or two further into the skin than the skin itself , this should be done with no or minimum extra wrist twisting ,it is the beater that should do the extra angle neccesary not the wrist.If you are holding the beater loosely this will be made easier
If you find it too difficult to do then try it with a downstroke first then come back up using the method described. As always start slowly ( it is normal to want to speed up but your patience here will be repayed by more skilful playing in the future , believe me)

Try this
D = downstroke U= upstroke

OneD TwoU ThreeD fourU

then try it starting with the upstroke

one(U) two(D) three (U) four(D)
if you need a guide to rythmn for the reel tempo ( 4\4 ) then just recite the word Abercrombie ( four syllables ) A ber crom bie , a syllable for each beat ( it helps honest !)

When you feel you are getting the hang of it ( dont rush though ) try putting in the accented beat.
Accentuate the first beat to begin with

ONE(D) two(U) three (D) four(U) repeat 8 times

then try the same but starting on the upstroke, this will mean both your accentuated beats are on the upstroke , which will prove more tricky at first but learning to start on either stroke will give you a flexibility in your playing later on and will mark you out as a player and not a basher.

Then when you have that comfortably try accentuating the 3rd beat.


one(D) two(U) THREE(D) four (U)

Here is where you will shine in a session. try this ONLY when you are comfortable with everything taught so far. Try going from one accentuation method to another seamlessly.

for example

ONE two three four
one two THREE four
one two THREE four
ONE two thre four

to make this easier try seeing it as one 16 beat rythmn rather than four fours . and try to pick out with your ear the underlying pattern ( ie the accents on there own )
again practice startin on either stroke direction

I strongly recommend that you practice daily , so far you have enough material to be getting on with for about a month. I will pop back again ( if there is enough interest in this) with more complicated stuff ( triplets , rests , rimshots and other rythmn types) in the meantime you could practice along with some recordings of reels you may have.
Dont get dispondent if you dont get the methods in one go , nothing worthwhile is immediate gratification.

Is mise Gearóid

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James
Member
Username: James

Post Number: 23
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 08:09 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Aingeal,

I apologize for not responding but I've been out of town for the past few days.

I started with a video as well as a CD. I am barely beyond the "beating" stage and can actually manage to support some music. For me, the trick is the sheer repetition of the instrument. I know there are some really creative types out there than can make a bodhran sound amazing....I'm just not one of them!

Bodhran joke:

What's the difference between a bodhran player and a podiatrist?

A podiatrist bucks up your feet and a bodhran player......

What's the best way to play a bodhran?

With a fork! (Or open pen-knife as already mentioned)

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Aingeal
Member
Username: Aingeal

Post Number: 7
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 10:10 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Go raibh maith agaibh for the instructions. I think we had tried the upbeat in the instruction and I found that very difficult, that will probabally take the most practice.

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Tomás (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 198.22.236.230
Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 11:24 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Aingeal,

One of your first steps as a bodhran player should be to get your hands on Ciarán Carson's little handbook on Irish Traditional Music and read the chapter on session etiquette. It should be required reading for all aspiring traditional musicians who have not been brought up in the tradition.

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Aingeal
Member
Username: Aingeal

Post Number: 8
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 11:47 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Is this the title of the book? Irish Traditional Music

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Pádraig
Member
Username: Pádraig

Post Number: 12
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 03:58 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Is this the same Ciarán Carson, the Irish poet published by Wake Forest University Press in Winston-Salem, NC?

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Goatbeater
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Username: Goatbeater

Post Number: 2
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 11:07 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I've been playing bodhran for about five years here in Sydney. Of course it's harder here, since the up and down strokes are reversed down here :-)

My favourite and scariest gig was visiting rellies in Naas last year and playing at Aras Chronain in Clondalkin.

I have 3 bodhrans - made last one myself - and want a Seamus O'Kane - say Heidi Talbot play one last week - wow! - and the bodhran was great too :-)

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Fear_na_mbróg
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Username: Fear_na_mbróg

Post Number: 112
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 08:24 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Goaterbeater, ar bhuail tú le Pádraic Walsh, nó le Damien Smith, nó le John Fitzgerald, agus tú in Áras Chrónáin?

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Goatbeater
Member
Username: Goatbeater

Post Number: 3
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:25 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Fear_na_mbróg - if you asked did I meet them there, Damien Smith's name sounds familiar, and John Fitzgerald. I only have a few simple rote phrases in Gaelic. The musicians there were extrememly good - the usual line up of fiddles, whistle, accordion and the like. It was an honour to play there and I felt sick when I realised the sort of place my cousins had got me into. But I think I acquitted myself.

There's a great notice on the walls at Aras Chronain, basically telling the patrons to shut up and listen to the music and song, which is a welcome sentiment to musos!!.

I can't wait to get back - next time I'd come for a few weeks in the summer and tour the festivals with all my instruments and drink a thousand Guinnesses.

BTW you don't know the Gaelic words to "Freeborn Irishman" do you?

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Fear_na_mbróg
Member
Username: Fear_na_mbróg

Post Number: 122
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 04:48 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Tá Google mar chara agat!

Bain triail as a leithéid seo:

Gael Saorbheirthe
Éireannach Saorbheirthe



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