Do bodhran players play other instruments?

Do bodhran players play other instruments?

I’m prompted to ask the question, having seen various comments here along the lines of "why don’t you learn a ‘proper’ instument?".

My own experience is that of the ‘drummers’ I know, about 2/3 play other instruments, often very well indeed. Maybe it’s a biased sample, in that they are just blerry good musicians anyway!

On the other hand, the bodhranists I’ve seen who appear to play only bodhran, do not play especially well. Maybe that’s no great surprise.

Those who can play another (melody) instrument have the advantage of knowing the tunes (assuming they do!), as well as being able to switch away from drum if there are too many .

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Johnny macDonagh and Colm Murphy play bodhran only they did ok.

I found learning the bodhran harder to learn than the bouzouki.

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other?

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Bodhran players still have to learn the tunes,Good backers are great listeners .

When a backer learns a tune by listening ,He/She will know it better than anyone.

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Showaddy - OK, I walked straight into that one! (but I’d have probably caused a rumpus if I’d said "Do bodhran players also play proper instruments"πŸ™‚ )

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Oh no, another bodhran thread! Walk away! Nothing to see here! Abort, retry, ignore!

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Bring um on, one of the bodhran haters on this site has a bodhran cd on his list .The bodhran haters also hunt in packs.

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Sorry Richard, I know what you mean, but if you can point me to one of the previous which answers my query, I’d be grateful and we can put it to bed without further ado.

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Domnull
Not all bodhran players play other Instruments .Some of the greatest players played bodhran only.On a personal note I found my bodhran playing has suffered since I started on the bouzouki.

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Well, quite often I feel like taking a stick to my accordion and beating the sh!te out of it, as it doesn’t do as it’s told.

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Dan easy, but I often felt like doing the same to a few accordian players ,They just won’t do what thier told.

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I used to be a bodhran player who played bouzouki.

Now I’m a bouzouki player who sometimes plays bodhran (and is learning the whistle - it’s in the tunes man).

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Sugarfoot Jack
Ya the whistle is on my list your right.but I love the drum and it will always be my no. one.Everyone is different.

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I play flute, whistle, bodhran and bones.

And no, Saint, bodhran players do NOT need to know the tune. After 25 years of playing myself and hearing other players, I still find this the strangest concept in music ever. One of these days, ask a professional percussionist of any persuasion and see what the answer is after he or she stops laughing.

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The phrase "other instruments" (sic) makes a large assumption.

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Ailin
Ok I see your point but if I know the tune I feel alot more competent playing it and I enjoy playing it more.

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domnull
Did you get the answer your looking for.

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Just by listening to the tune your learning it .And by learning it I mean being familar with it and being able to hum it.

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Ailin
Playing for 25 years or even 125 years doesn’t matter once it’s right. The length of time you’re doing something doesn’t mean it’s getting any better and anyone who laughs at someone who asks that question isn’t worth much.

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Looking at the bodhran players I know
one plays the concertina - not particularly well
one plays the piano - no call for that
one is too busy playing mandolin, guitar, banjo or fiddle most of the time to hit the goatskin as well.
Numerous people sing quite well and have probably picked up the bodhran to have something to do during the tune sets.

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Your knowledge of the drum is so small.

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Interested in watching a classical music show - a bit like "X factor" but for classical musicians. I think one thing that really sets traditional musicians apart is that they often play more than one instrument. Classical musicians seem to "specialise" and I think they lose out.

I’m definitely going to try out some drumming (in the privacy of my own home!) because I think it’s got to be good for my harp playing and general musicianship - just as singing is really helpful if only to give you a different perspective on the tunes you play.

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go for it mark you’ll enjoy it and if you need help let us know.

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Thank you, Saint! A kind offer - do you know where I can learn some basics? I know of course a teacher is the right way to go, but if there are some easy and very basic exercises, perhaps online, that would be fun!

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I like the story of a fiddle tutor at a summer school in Ireland who sent some of his beginners to the bodhran class next door for an hour’s tuition on the bodhran to loosen up their bowing wrists.
One of our bodhranists in Bristol is capable of starting up a tune well enough for the other players to recognise and join in. I don’t think she ever joins in a tune she doesn’t know.

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>.And no, Saint, bodhran players do NOT need to know the tune. After 25 years of playing myself and hearing other players, I still find this the strangest concept in music eve<<

Well you cant have met some of the musicians i have!

But Ailin, How do you know? if youv been playing that long then you will allready know so many tunes!
And can you not offer some support for your contention? just stating an opinion, without corroborating evidence is hardly constructive.And in what might appear a condescending manner.

I am a percussionist, and musician of 30 yrs plus, And agree whole heartedly that to play a piece of music on any instrument, including drums, it helps to know the piece, melody, chordal structure, possible ornaments, harmonic structure etc.The tune. It may not be essential depending on the level of the player, for example i can often pick up a tune 2nd time round. I dont know the tune, i pick it up.

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Or, do players of other instruments also play the bodhran ?
Yes.
We always take one along to the trad sessions, not the more eclectic ones where there will be less tunes we don’t know; and it tends to get passed around, played by anyone who doesn’t know the tune of the moment, or thinks there are too many people doing more justice then they can muster for that particular melody.

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I’m not going to say whether I agree or not about the Bodran player needing to know the tune or not, however I’d like to mentionon the opinion of one of the finest bodhran players anywhere. He lives here in the North Texas area. He has played with most of the heavy hitter Irish trad bands and seems to friends with all of them. He makes bodrans and sells them for a good chunk of change. Basically, he is a respected professional in every sense of the word when it comes to bodhrans. Some of you may even know who I am talking about from just from the description.

He doesn’t play tunes unless he knows them.

And on to the topic statement, This same man is a fine musician but only plays percussion.

I am sure that the stigma about Bodran players comes from a piece of reality. Many people who are enchanted by ITM want to participate and who can blame them? However, they are usually attempting to participate in a session before their skills are adequate. Ouch.

I remember a session at a local festival where I found a friend of mine in a hotel conference room and it looked like he was setting up to play. I decided to join him in this huge open room. I’m not clear exactly how it happened but within 20 minutes there were about 20 bodran players in that room.

Someone asked if they could do some mouth music, a happliy participating bodhran player had elected himself head of the drum clan and said "Sure" very enthusiastically. Before that song was over, my friend and I left to find a session and left the chaotic rumble of an earthquake behind.

If the Bodran is the gateway instrument, try to treat it as a musical instrument instead of something to take your frustrations out on. As a gateway instrument you are learning to appreciate your musical contribution. If you are doing that - more power to you.

Signed -
The very long absent Mark

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Jig, I am happy to substantiate my opinion, even though I have done so repeatedly in other threads, which is why I didn’t here.

Simply put, ITM is not that complicated. If you know the form, it’s very easy to anticipate. When a tune is played that I don’t know, I sit out the first time on the A and B parts. When the A comes around again, I start in, which actually makes the tune sound like an arrangement, anyway. Not only can I then ease into the tune, but I already know where it is going. I build on what I am doing on each time through the tune. When it switches to another tune, I again drop out and follow the same basic rule. Sometimes, though, if the tune following is obviously similar, I just keep going, although I might keep it a little more basic until I’m sure that I won’t mess something up.

Most percussionists find themselves in a position to back someone on a tune they don’t know. This can be difficult if there is an arrangement for the tune. If there is, what you really need to know is the arrangement. Such is not the case with ITM, especially in a session, where the formula is pretty consistent.

Does it HELP to know the tune? It can. Is it necessary? Not at all. Unless my experience is unique, and I don’t think it is, I find it very hard to believe that any bodhran player worth his or her salt would only play tunes he or she knew.

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Fair enough, but what you describe is picking up aspects of the tune by ear. And for someone who has done it for years is normal. But the point is you already know probably a great no of tunes, etc, you have already reached a level that allows you to do this.
For people who haven’t, novices etc.advice like knowing the tune is valid.
I would also add that the twists and turns of tunes are to be accented by the drum, so without knowing, or picking up on those distinctive characteristics, all the drum can do is play a basic rhythm.
And obviously reading posts here there are highly experienced players who also feel knowing the tune is essential. Whether that is because the fiddlers kept on ranting till they learnt the tunes and echoed the advice…..no one will know..
However I feel its worth considering the commonly expressed view that its best to learn the tunes.
After all Bodhran players have had some bad press and theres no smoke without fire .
And im still up for the 4/4 vs 2/.2 debate!πŸ™‚

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I think all drummers need to assess their own ability to pick up the nuances of a tune on the fly. The simple reason why the bodhran gets such bad press is that everyone thinks they can play one. Add to that the fact that many melody players would happily live without bodhrans at all, and you have the makings of a volatile attitude.

Regarding 4/4 vs 2/2, try this: Take a sheet of music with a reel written in 4/4. Now play the tune tapping your foot four times per measure. Go as slowly as you like. Now do the same thing counting two times per measure. You should immediately notice that when you count two times per measure the tune flows very smoothly, whereas in 4/4 it is very choppy. If you know how the tune should sound, you may instinctively play in 2/2, but then you are not playing it as written.

What’s really interesting is when you play it it 2/4 (like a hornpipe). You then have two counts per measure, but they are counted as four quarter notes. The effect if very bouncy (not smooth like a reel or choppy like a reel played in 4/4). If I’m confusing you, think The Fisherman’s Hornpipe and you’ll hear the rhythm right away. It’s a good way to learn reels. You can play very slowly and the music still sounds very Irish (reels played slowly tend, IMO, to lose their Irish character), it’s easier to add ornaments, and the beat is more pronounced. Many ITM players play reels as hornpipes. I remember when I heard Phil Cunningham play Farewell to Ireland (one of my favorites) as a hornpipe, it came across to me as a whole different tune. 2/4 works really well for most reels. Try it.

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I think people on this thread have to bear in mind that Ailin does "gigs more than sessions these days, but not a lot - maybe three or four times a year".

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Trad police here.
Under section 72A of the State of Traditional Irish Music Act,
the law passed under the wise guidence of Labhras O Murchu on July 15 1978,clearly states that such conversations might entice notions of one’s self,and the breaching of will incure a fine if/when the perpetrators are located.

We will overlook this particular event,but future attempts will be crushed.

I think that’s fair enough,

Oh,what about Seamus O’Kane…

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Ilig, I’ve been playing for a long time. Good sessions are hard to come by in my area, and the timing of some of them just don’t work for me. The relevance of your comment eludes me. Do you have something to offer, or are you just trying to be entertaining?

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Ailin try picking a reel on a banjo. you will have 4 down beats, and four up, same with a guitar, mandolin and Bodhran.
It states clearly in any transcription of a reel that there are 2 groups of 4 notes. This indicates the phrasing of the melody. But that is a different matter to the Metre.
The accent mark is used to indicate syncopation and stuff.
And Ailin, hornpipes are also 4/4 ?
Though i have seen them in cut time as well as common , never in 2/4.

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I have to admit …I was a bodhran player and a good one I am told, even taught at a festival in Eire once but I got bored and was never asked to play in any bands they always asked the blond attractive singer or the brother of the guitarist and I would go to a session and never play while someone went bang bang bang all night without a rest or rhythm. So then I found the Bazouki and my joy has been unconfined and even more than the music it led me to meet Tooty Flutey what more reward could there be …………….

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Jig, look in O’Neills. Reels are in cut time and hornpipes are in 2/4. I’m not clear on the point you are trying to make about stringed instruments and bodhran.

You are correct that there are two groups of four notes. In 4/4, it would be four groups of two notes (a down beat and an up beat for each count). 1234-1234 as opposed to 12-34-12-34.

Hornpipes, like reels, are 1234-1234, but the 3 is accented, which what gives hornpipes their bouncy quality. They are also slower.

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Ailin your not wrong in what your saying but knowing the tunes will bring the bodhran playing to the next level.

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You can hardly use O’Neils! some reels are 4/4 some 2/2 some hornpipes 2/2 some4/4 and even the odd2/4, so there is no consistency of approach, indicating either a lack of understanding or a number of different transcribers or that some reels etc are so different that they need to be notated differently.
If you play 8 even notes on a bodhran you will play four down beats.Emphasize the first and you have 4/4 or 4/8 etc

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polkas are all different………………

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>>In 4/4, it would be four groups of two notes (a down beat and an up beat for each count). 1234-1234 as opposed to 12-34-12-34.<<
you mean 4 groups of 2 notes would be your understanding of 4/4 yes? And 2 groups of 4 would be 2/2?
You are viewing a down beat as a classical conductors baton waving exercise i presume rather than the older musical meaning.?

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It going over my head a bit ,I just know all reels are not played the same and all polkas are not played the same and theres and there’s alot of listening in slip jigs.
See ya for a pint the weekend .
Regards
eddie

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I play the fiddle, guitar, mandolin and banjo, but cannot play the bodhran… I have tried, but its not in me.

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Jig - Yes, that is correct. When talking about a time signature, the top number represents the number of beats per measure; the bottom number is note value with which to count (quarter note for 4/4, half-note for 2/2, etc.). This does not mean that is how the tune is written, but only how it is counted.

Saint is correct - all reels are played the same or they wouldn’t be reels anymore. I mentioned O’Neills only because you said you’d never seen hornpipes written in 2/4, and I knew off the top of my head that O’Neills has it that way.

I tried to indicate how the different time signatures should sound. Did I succeed?

(Oh, and Saint - I do not disagree with your post about taking your playing to the next level by knowing the tune. All I’ve ever said was that it was not essential to know the tune.)

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I know a guy who plays tenor banjo well and is a fantastic bodhran player also. He believes strongly that one cannot back up a tune properly on the bodhran unless they have a command of that tune’s melody and can play it on a melody instrument.
I play uilleann pipes, flute, and whistle, and play bodhran a bit. I don’t think knowing the tune has anything to do with it unless you’re going to try to outline the tune on the drum, which I think sounds far too busy. To me, the bodhran should stay out of the way of the melody, not try to participate in it. It should provide a deep steady pulse, not ring out like bongos.

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Wow! Mr. Leahcim has one hell of a memory!!! This thread belongs in the session.org hall of fame… About 3/4 of is about as incoherent as it gets around here, but pretty cool!!! You guys know your sh*te! But seriously folks straight time without melodic embellishment can be great (backs beats or even 4s), punching out cadences at the end off 4 bar phrases…It’s all good…Yes some of us can learn a BASIC setting of a 32 bar ITM tune in one or two choruses AFTER we figure out the form…But>>> How you tell the difference betwen the an A and a C or D part of a 48 or 64 bar form that is new? That could PYO…Yeah and in case you still haven’t figured it out: ITM IS that complicated, once you step inside and really listen to the masters. IAG … Hey Mr. Simos are you out there do you have two cents??!!

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hmm!

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"And no, Saint, bodhran players do NOT need to know the tune. After 25 years of playing myself and hearing other players, I still find this the strangest concept in music ever. One of these days, ask a professional percussionist of any persuasion and see what the answer is after he or she stops laughing."

I can’t stop laughing. How strange that you’ve been playing 25 years and you still think you can get away with beating the drum at the right tempo and it’ll all be ok. Still, most of the bodhran players I’ve met in sessions have had this attitude so I shouldn’t be surprised.

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A straight ahead beat is sometimes the best formula for playing.
I’ve played with many of the best bodhran players and they are subtle in their approach to playing along with the particular tune.
It usually doesn’t vary too much.
All this talk of 2/2 4/4 etc. is a bit much,or little in order to quantify it all.
If one plays a particular rhythmic variation within the tune the players who aren’t as knowledgable about whats going on tend to try to nail where you do certain things and the effect is gone because it was mean’t to work over a straight rhythm in the 1st place unless otherwise arranged beforehand,or it just over accentuates it making it sound like the third part of jenny’s chickens(DI DI DI!)Corny as hell!
It seems that the best players I’ve encountered just play without a predetermined goal and things just happen naturally,even seemingly telepathically…
It’s just one particular aspect of a much more complex entirety.
It’s actually hard to write this down I’ve just realized.
having a good knowledge of the music is essential but jeez,
I think I’ll second that HMMMM.

P

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The way I see it is this: the best backers on guitar know all the tunes and know where all the accents come in the tune, so they accent them subtly and sensitively, in order to showcase the tune. It really is all about the melody. Backers aren’t there to provide the rhythm for the melody players. The rhythm is already there in the tune and in the playing of the melody players. A good guitarist can’t get away with just playing a generic "reel rhythm" for every single reel they back. The way they accent the rhythm of a particular tune will have an effect on whether they’re successful in showcasing the melody or not.

I don’t see why bodhran players should be exempt from this. I mean I know they’re a bit dim and simple, but these tunes aren’t really that hard if you’re willing to make the effort, even for a drummer.

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It’s all about ***phrasing***. Something which most bodhran players have no concept of. They just hear the music as boom-ticka-boom-tickaticka-boom and very little else. It’s amazing that they get any enjoyment from it at all. Mind you, I suppose the act of hitting something and making a banging sound with a stick is kind of pleasing in itself, a bit like babies like to shake bottles of water to make a "slish-slosh" sound, or maybe drop things on the floor to make a big "crash!".

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Dow - go pick up those toys now. I said NOW - I don’t care if you have to get out of the pram.

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Ha

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Duh, Dow

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Ooh, it’s happening again Duh Dow Duh Dow Duh Dow Dow Dow

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Cheers Domnull - someone was going to say it, so I thought it best to get it out of the way.

πŸ˜‰

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"The way I see it is this: the best backers on guitar know all the tunes and know where all the accents come in the tune, so they accent them subtly and sensitively, in order to showcase the tune. It really is all about the melody. Backers aren’t there to provide the rhythm for the melody players. The rhythm is already there in the tune and in the playing of the melody players. A good guitarist can’t get away with just playing a generic "reel rhythm" for every single reel they back. The way they accent the rhythm of a particular tune will have an effect on whether they’re successful in showcasing the melody or not."


Just thought it needed repeating. Spot on Dow.

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We have several bodhran players in our area and the ones who really seem to GET the instrument, who play it the best, are the ones who play other instruments. At our little session, two of us play bodhran and we both also play whistle.

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>>When talking about a time signature, the top number represents the number of beats per measure; the bottom number is note value with which to count (quarter note for 4/4, half-note for 2/2, etc.). This does not mean that is how the tune is written, but only how it is counted.<<
Only in simple time might this be true, but in 2/2 there ,as far as i can make out, 4 beats to the bar still.

>>I tried to indicate how the different time signatures should sound. Did I succeed<<
No, you got it mixed up. But not to worry, Your not telling me anything new. After all 4/4 is all that gets played on the radio, Its hardly new to me. etc, etc
Im just interested in what might make someone think cut time is more suitable than common in this day and age .

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In 2/2 there are only 2 beats in a bar. In simple (non-compound) time, the figure on the top of the time signature shows how many beats there are, and the one on the bottom shows whether it’s a quarter note, eighth note, etc.

That’s not to say it’s necessarily better for transcribing reels or whatever. It depends on whether you want to double tap them or not, like a lot of the pros do.

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So 2/2 means "two half-note beats", 4/4 means "four quarter note beats", 3/8 means "three eighth note beats".

Compound time is a different story though.

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OK but a halfnote lasts 2 beats.
The cut time convention in classical music generally refers to marches. To take a classical system, apply it to Irish music , and then suggest people who consider reels to be 4/4 as using a classical system and not understanding ITM ………….

IF reels are 2 beats then where in ITM are the common 4/4 tunes?
But its all a bit theoretical this argument, the proof is in the playing.The bones, Biodhran, banjo etc all will play 8 notes a bar, 4 of these will be down beats [stronger] and four up.

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No, a halfnote (minim) lasts two crotchets. It only lasts 2 beats in 4/4, not 2/2. It doesn’t matter what you use for trad music - it’s all just convention anyway. I’ve seen reels notated in 2/2, 4/4 and 2/4. You could even notate them in 12/8 if you wanted to, altho’ that’s unconventional. Doesn’t make any difference to how you play them as it’s an aural tradition.

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Ahh but in many ways it does.For example, a drummer, seeing a reel is at 120 bpm wont sound right, he will play a 4/4 beat at 120. If he plays a 2/4 rhythm it wont sound right either.
Try explaining an old classical convention generally unheard of to a drummer, same goes for the guitar, if they think that its 2 beats per bar, then you can get this discontinuity between the melody and rhythm.The guitarist thinking hes being clever because hes read something or other.
But answer my point about common time being unheard of in ITM…..
of course not… its the commonest tunes we have. reels.

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You only get discontinuity between melody and rhythm if the 2 musicians are not listening to each other and playing trad properly. That’s everyone who plays trad should learn the tunes whether they be melody players or backers. You can’t learn trad by looking at sheetmusic or listening to the tick tock of a metronome.

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that’s why

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if a drummer "saw" a reel notated, and tried to drum to it …. ? Come on now, could you ever seriously countenance this scenario?

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I’ve always said it listen to the melody player and the way he/she plays the tune, And then deceide what type of drumming is needed .A drummer needs to know the tunes he/she doesn’t need to know the keys but he needs to know when there is a change in key .By knowing the tune a drummer can anticapate whats coming and this helps to put the strong beats in the right places to give the tune a lift if needed.
Bodhran abΓΊ

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Jig you would know that 4/4 goes out the window when backing someone like Micho Russell.

East Clare music is so accurate they say its like cutting a piece of steak with a knife.I wouldn’t rely on 2/4 and 4/4 stuff to back some of this music .Just my opinion

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Jig, I think the point being missed here is what happens when you play a tune as written. I think you will agree that you cannot possibly play the tune the same way no matter if it is in 4/4 or 2/2 if eveything else about the notation is the same. If that were so, there would be no reason to note time signature at all. You can play a tune any way you like, but if you are doing a written transcription and your intention is to write the tune as a reel, or at the very least, write it the way it sounds in a particular recording, you must use the time signature that matches the way the tune should was heard or else it will not come out the same way when someone sight-reads the tune.

BTW, I was gratified to see Richard Cook’s comments. He is the only one on this site whom I actually know (albeit distantly), and I respect his judgment enough to defer to it.

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What on *earth* are you on about, Ailin? You don’t transcribe a tune so that other people can recreate the rhythm and sound original source by sightreading it. If they do that then it doesn’t matter what time sig you use, it’ll always sound mechanical and rubbish.

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"I think the point being missed here is what happens when you play a tune as written."

You should never, ever, ever, ever, ever play a tune as written. Don’t even think it. Don’t even talk about it. Don’t even put the idea into other people’s heads.

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do any good musician play tunes as written ,I don’t think so

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The numbers are pretty meaningless when considering the depth of the tradition. I think we can all agree on that.

Listening is an absolutely essential part of both the tradition, and playing this music well. Agreed?

The dots are an aside, a helpful aid to some.
But if we talk about music, we need a language. The dots are one such language.

My aim is often simply to help people who want to play trad, for whatever reason, to do so in a relatively authentic manner.
I, as im sure many of you have, have seen countless sessions brought down by uneducated people who simply don’t know what to do. Whether its learner fiddlers, or jzz guitarists , or drunk fluters etc.
If, as a result of my small contribution , a session improves because someone has tried to take my suggestions on board, great, maybe im at that session, or maybe you are.
A lot of simple things are overcomplicated by people who feel they have to compete in todays world.
Music is not about competition, but cooperation.
The western world has a tendency to turn many things into competition,. On a number of levels this is a mistake.With this competitive mindset, simple, fun, relaxing pastimes are turned into stressful occasions. Completely unnecessary.

For example, ornaments. I was playing a few tunes with an old friend, nice laid back style, plenty of space, plenty of room to ornament without tripping over each other. A conversation where both parties listen, leave space for the other, consequently a pleasure.
I am happy to play a stripped back style when playing with higher level players, i give them room to do their thing without trying to compete, or talk over them. I know my place.
I recomend this approach to everyone.If a group of players approach their music in this fashion everyone will feel valued, and be able to contribute.
You might get an egomaniac taking advantage. If they are good enough then fair enough, we will be happy to give them the space they demand. If not then they will simply be frozen out. Perhaps not consciously but we all know people who may have ‘the chops’ but who are too overbearing. be it in music or any other field.
Once the mechanical aspects of playing are dealt with, ie timing intonation, ornaments. stability of pace, plenty of tunes etc then comes the chance to really create something special, as a group activity. How does a group of people move up to this level?
Too many muso’s simply never reach this level because the individual ego gets in the way. The idea is to access the group mind. To play as one. Like a flock of birds move,as one. This is simply impossible while one or more members are ‘showing off’.
It is an incredible feeling to be part of something special like this. It needs all the players to listen to each other. To react to each other, to trust each other.
Be it only for a short while.
To be in tune.

Re: Do bodhran players play other instruments?

I don’t know if some of you simply do not understand the conventions of music, or you just think you are being funny. Try and do better or just stay out of it, if you can. "Playing a tune as written" simply means that you are using the notation, time signature, dynamic markings, etc. as they appear on the page. Even with all the markings in the world, no two people will play a piece exactly the same way. In classical music, EVERYTHING is marked, yet different interpretations of pieces can vary wildly whilst still observing the written score "as written." Are you really not aware of this???

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Re: Do bodhran players play other instruments?

Just ask a few of the guitarists that play with Tommy Peoples.
In fact,Matt Molloy usually tells a backer that he’s going to speed up and just to watch out for it.
And then there’s that whole Johnny Doherty/Donegal thing going on(mixing 6/8 with 9/8 and extra beats,missing beats etc…………..
I suppose,back to Peoples…..

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jeez, will i ever stay on topic!!
Re Richards opinion, In The highland pipeing tradition the tunes are played by the drummer.
Without knowing the tune you have no hope in hell of adding anything, you will simply get in the way. The rhythms are so complex .Now i know this isnt directly relevant however the point needs to be maid, that only on a superficial leval is trad ‘easy’ actually it is not. If it were, every tom dick and harry would be blasting out reels and sounding like Michael Gallagher. It is a complete traditional art form requiring decades of practice to master.
Richard prefers a steady solid beat from the bodhran.[i think he says] That is personal choice and taste. I certainly prefer a nice rich bassy sound from the drum, but would prefer the drum followed the tune, pausing when the tune pauses, triplets when the tune does etc.Neither is wrong or right its personal taste.

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>>Are you really not aware of this<<
Check out the Urtext of popular baroque pieces. This will clearly show you that your proposition is not fully accurate.
It is impossible to fully notate any piece of music.
As in any attempt to represent something on paper.

Re: Do bodhran players play other instruments?

Ailin, I’m afraid your paragraph above is rather badly thought out and you have been overly simplistic in your eagerness to belittle me and make assumptions about my knowledge or lack of it. You are confusing 2 very different traditions. In classical music, a musician gets the notes of the tune from the written page and then goes about putting their own interpretation on it. In trad music, a musician learns how to play the music by ear, and might never use sheetmusic in his or her life as it is unnecessary, but they may use it as a memory aid to trigger the memory of a particular tune, or they may use it simply to keep track of the "identity" of a tune, so they can keep track of what tunes they know, or they may well use it to pass on a tune in written form to another musician who has already learnt how to play the music by ear.

A bad trad musician follows the classical method and learns how to play the music from the written page, as written, and then perhaps tries to put his/her interpretation on it, without first learning how to play the music properly by ear. These are the people who cannot play.

So the phrase "playing a tune as written" means a different thing to a trad musician than what it does to a classical musician.

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PS I’ve never been called "some of you" before. Nice name…

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"In classical music, EVERYTHING is marked, yet different interpretations of pieces can vary wildly whilst still observing the written score "as written.""

Here again, badly thought out. If I play a trad tune using the dots, but I make up a variation so that instead of |G2BG dGBG| I play |~G3B deBG|. I’m not playing it "as written" anymore, right?

So, like I said, you should never ever ever ever ever play a tune as written.

Unless

Unless you really want to suck… Then by all means do.

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Dow, you cannot make a valid point by simply avoiding the obvious. You are entitled to your opinion about whether or not a trad player can or should learn tunes from written music - I’m not debating that. I’m simply saying that it is possible to notate the music correctly, and that there is a correct way to do it. Playing as written is a universal term, and does not mean somethng different to the trad player than it does to the classical player.

You and many others here seem to have a strident objection to the use of written music, which to me is plain silly. I learn the bulk of my tunes by ear. I was an ear musician long before I ever studied formally. If I have a written version of a tune, it simply helps me to learn it much faster than I can by ear. Why do you have a problem with that? If you can help the classically trained by simply noting reels as 2/2 rather than 4/4, is that so objectionable?

Please don’t waste everyone’s time by trying to poke holes in the specific language I use to make a point. I think you understand what I’m trying to say, so what’s up with splitting hairs? Why make more of "Playing as written" than it is?

And I am not trying to belittle you. I have no idea what you know and what you don’t. What I do know is that there’s nothing wrong with either being an ear musician or a "dots" musician - I prefer to be both. But if one does not know the "dots" or the conventions of written music, I think staying out of an argument on that subject is appropriate. That also explains my use of "some of you." I wouldn’t single you out specifically because I don’t know how much of formal music you know. On the other hand, if the shoe fits…

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Oh, one other point on the "dots." When I was in Ireland, I picked up the book of flute tunes by Vincent Broderick, whose recording is out of print. Playing through the book, I came upon two reels that are among my favorites. I wonder what your (Dow) suggestion would be for learning those tunes.

Oh, and guess what? A friend of mine who happened to have the recording duped me a copy. Well, I learned the tunes "as written" and added my own ornaments and style to them. I play in true trad style, but I sound nothing like Broderick. I’m glad I went to the written version first, because even though they are his own tunes, his regional style differs so much from my own that I am not particularly drawn to his playing. From the recording, I probably would have never decided to learn those tunes. I find more than a little irony in that.

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Hey, when did we stop talking about bodhrans and start talking about music?
πŸ˜‰

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When Jig said he was still up for a debate on 4/4 vs 2/2. Sorry we strayed so far, but it was interesting.

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Irony? Ha.

You don’t care much for a tune having heard it directly from the writer. The you see it written and change your mind?

So you learned the tunes "as written" and added your own ornaments and style to them. You "play in true trad style"?

Ha ha ha ho ho ho bloody ho.


I think the telling thing is when you say: "that there’s nothing wrong with either being an ear musician or a "dots" musician - I prefer to be both"

Anyone who doesn’t realize that the ears are the only important thing is an idiot.

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Ilig, you’re funny. First of all I learned the tunes long before I had access to a recorded version.

And if you are disparaging written music, you are calling an awful lot of people idiots. Would that we all had your level of enlightenment. God, I’d love to hear you play some day. Must be something of an out-of-body experience.

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I’m worried about the "I’m simply saying that it is possible to notate the music correctly, and that there is a correct way to do it."

It seems totally obvious to me that it’s impossible to notate this music correctly.

If you’re playing the tune properly, with all the articulation, double stops, and accenting that a trad tune has, then you can’t possibly be playing it "as written". You cannot attempt to transcribe the way a good trad musician plays a tune. It’s impossible. If you do try, and then you pass on that transcription to someone well versed in the music and tell them to recreate how the original source played the tune just from the dots, they could never even come close. All the dynamics, tempo, rhythm and elements of style, in other words, all the music, is not contained in the dots. So Ailin, when you say this:

"You can play a tune any way you like, but if you are doing a written transcription and your intention is to write the tune as a reel, or at the very least, write it the way it sounds in a particular recording, you must use the time signature that matches the way the tune should was heard or else it will not come out the same way when someone sight-reads the tune."

You are very seriously misguided on a fundamental level in your views on the whole function of sheetmusic for trad musicians. You are implying that someone can learn the music and pick up elements of style/tempo/articulation etc from the written music. This is really really really really wrong. Really wrong. So wrong, in fact, that this thread’s starting to make me feel slightly depressed.

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…because it doesn’t matter what time sig you use, it’s not going to come out the same way anyway.

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I’ve read dots since I was a child and there’s no replacement for having the tune in your head and playing from that. It’s magic. It’s bad-ass. Wild stuff. I live for it.

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I think there is only one way any music can be played from the dots and sound exactly as written.
It is by feeding the dots into a midi or similar computer program. We all know what the result is likely to sound like.

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I get depressed with this argument too. Dow is right. And the blindingly obvious thing about anyone who attempts to argue the other way is that they must be really rubbish players. (and yet not know it)

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Ailin - point of information for you. 8 "session org" members met up in Sandy Bell’s in Edinburgh earlier this year, "Dow" and "llig" among them. By whatever methods they learned their music, these guys know what they’re doing. IMHO, of course.

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Saint - "Johnny macDonagh and Colm Murphy play bodhran only they did ok". I think Colm also plays fiddle - correct me if I’m wrong.

Re: Do bodhran players play other instruments?

Domnull
Colm is bodhran only but he is a great artist I have two of his paintings.
Eddie

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"Oh, one other point on the "dots." When I was in Ireland, I picked up the book of flute tunes by Vincent Broderick, whose recording is out of print. Playing through the book, I came upon two reels that are among my favorites. I wonder what your (Dow) suggestion would be for learning those tunes."

The Turoe Stone? I have that book myself and learnt a few tunes out of it. They’re good tunes. Sorry, what was the problem here?

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"Colm is bodhran only but he is a great artist I have two of his paintings."

What does he paint?

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I will only respond to Dow’s last post, since the others are virtually impossible to respond to since everyone keeps saying that I’ve implied trad can be learned from sheet music. I’ve NEVER said or implied anything of the kind, and if you carefully read my posts, you’d know that. I think many of you keep coming back to that for lack of a valid argument. I won’t respond to that anymore.

Dow, my point with Turoe Stone is that I needed the book to learn the tunes because I did not have a recording at the time, and knew of none by anyone else. By yours and Iligs’s standards, it sounds to me like I should simply have not bothered to learn the tunes from a written source. If I am not stating your position correctly, please let me know where I’ve gone wrong.

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No ones saying you can’t learn the notes from dots. I think the argument is that you can’t learn to play this music from dots. There’s a big difference.

By the way I do have some very incriminating photos of young dow trying his hand at the ancient art of goatwhackery so if I was mr dow i’d be watching what i was saying πŸ™‚

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I’ve just come back from a brilliant weekend -
https://thesession.org/events/506#comment327270
to see 99 replies, soooooo………

Might as well seize the 100th post on this thread - I only asked whether the bodhranists you know played anything else !!!!!

Re: Do bodhran players play other instruments?

Why bother play anything else. That’s like asking if Rembrandt played music, or Beethoven painted.

When you have reached the nirvana of the bodhran, why bother with anything else.

Yes, I play numerous instruments, some very well, some fair, some very badly.

Re: Do bodhran players play other instruments?

john joe kelly is a very nice banjo player

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well i suppose i could call myself a bodhran player…. but id be stretching the facts a bit! I can play the Bodhran sure enough, i know the tunes. but to be honest i just call myself a musician. And i play a rake of instruments, some up to a high standard some up to a competent standard and some i just muck about on for the craic.
After all, Its fun.

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Musician?! LOL! That’s stretching the facts alright.

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Oh I see you play musical instruments too - I take that back!

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………..and "some up to a high standard", to boot.

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*sigh*

Ailin and Jig, please do remember that trying to impose written forms of music on Irish traditional music happened long after Irish traditional music started being played.

In terms of musical notation, a hornpipe, usually written, by modern convention, in 2/4 time, is actually played in *something* like what a classical musician *means* by 4/4, and reels (same distinction) are actually played in something like what a classical musician would approximate to 2/4.

It is something pretty much close to "wrong" to try and impose classical musical notation and the pulse that it implies, nay, demands, onto Irish traditional music.

Different trad musicians often play in very different "time signatures" in terms of pulse and feel to each other (although some musicians played very much exactly as would be notated, of course, the genre encompasses many different ways of playing very comfortably), and it must be remembered that the pulse and feel of some of the older generations (and some of the new) have almost nothing to do with ANY commonly recognizable time signature even though it might actually approximate the form of the time signature, because they play with the pulse wandering around or somewhere other than where a classically trained musician would put it.

And that’s largely why experienced trad musicians suppress their smiles (or sometimes they don’t) around classically trained musicians who try to play trad music and think they have it down when in fact all they have down are the notes.

Essentially, what I’m trying to say is that it’s useless to try and argue about 2/2 or 4/4 — written music is only a tool, it’s only a reminder, and what it implies about pulse and rhythm may not apply at all to Irish trad.

Which is not actually what I came here to say. What I came here to say was that both Dow and Michael are very good trad musicians, having played fairly often with the first when we’re in the same country and once with the latter on the one occasion I was in the same country with him. They’re both very knowledgeable about this stuff, and I’d session with either of them like a shot, at any time, although the latter is mainly more because they’re exceptionally good company, rather than because they’re such great musicians.

One can, after all, find many great musicians who are complete rear ends of donkeys (although that may be unfairly maligning the donkeys), and while listening to them might be a nice evening out, I personally wouldn’t go out of my way to spend an evening playing tunes with them.

I don’t always agree with everything either would say and I certainly am not always happy about the WAY they say what they do, but in general, I’d go to the wall for either, because over the years I’ve come to know them as musicians and plain good people.

More on subject, lots of bodhran players started with the bodhran and moved to other instruments. Some don’t. There are many really good musicians who have picked up bodhran along their way, as well. There are in fact some very good bodhran players, but who they are will depend on who you talk to.

The major reason so many melody players cannot STAND bodhran players is because of the same pulse and rhythm thing as referenced above. When a bodhran player is not a good enough musician to catch the pulse and rhythm that the alpha melody players are using, or worse, decides that everyone is supposed to be following their pulse and rhythm, you get melody players who can’t stand bodhran players.

I once knew a bodhran player who actually, seriously meant it when he told me that he picked up the bodhran because he didn’t think he could learn a real instrument. I found that really really sad for a myriad of reasons.

And for all youse guys laughing yourselves sick because I got sucked in once more, pbbbbhhtttthhht to you. *smirk* And all youse guys who like to lurk and then laugh yourselves sick at the people who actually post (you know who you are, because you’ve told me!), wouldn’t it be nice to actually weigh in once or twice? :p

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She’s baaaa—aaaack!

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LOL - Hi Will — no, I’m not. Are you trying to say I’m some kind of sheep? Don’t answer that. *smirk*

I’m going away now! lol - you know where to find me. Kisses to the kids and Rose.

Re: Do bodhran players play other instruments?

I think she is just posting once in a while because she knows that Dow’s post total is inching ever closer to her record-breaking 10621 posts (not bad, considering she hasn’t posted regularly in 2 years…) πŸ˜›

Pete

Re: Do bodhran players play other instruments?

Pete, I believe that’s "record-setting" - a pace none of us can match.

Cheers, Zeens, and say hullo to the gang over there for me!

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Well i must be fortunate enough to not have met these said cr@p Bodhran players. More than my share of cr@p fiddlers though!
Many Bodhran players are too shy because of all the malicious gossip spread, by , for example some individuals here.
Perhaps its because folk buy cheap junk in Ireland to take home back to the states or England or wherever. Here, thats not an issue that i have come across. There are excellent players on lovely drums. Long may they continue.
But this Hornpipe in 2/4 confuses me. where does this happen.? Ailin correctly pointed out a few examples in O’Neils, but i have a pretty extensive library here and looking through, I cant see it.
I dont think anyone hear doubts that Llig and dow are good players. Thats not an issue, and lets not lump them together ehh? they are two individuals.
I have met hundreds of Amazing players, maybe more. A few world class players. They often are Humble and Modest, but make an error and they ill quickly put you right. Mind I’ve met a fair few egoist in my time too.
As far as Im concerned Reels and Hornpipes are in 4/4, polka’s in 2/4 double jigs are 6/8 slip jigs in 9/8 and single jigs and slides are in 12/8.
To be honest i think its just conceit that somehow one particular type of music cant be described in commonly accepted terms. This terminology does fine for every other, often far more complicated and intricate music, A few simple reels and jigs not? I dont think so.
No music can be fully notated in any sense . This is commonly accepted in all styles.Irish music is no exception.

Re: Do bodhran players play other instruments?

I’m not sure who you’re arguing with, because you’re arguing points I didn’t make, which a short perusal of some of your past posts shows that you make a bit of a habit of doing, Jig.

(Michael and Dow can be lumped together because 1) they’re both good company though they’re very different company, and 2) it’s handy, and 3) I know without asking they won’t mind, although now we’ve discussed it, Dow is bound to come back in his morning and take the p*ss one way or another.)

Whether it’s 4/4 or 2/4 you’re used to seeing something notated in, you simply cannot describe the different pulses of Irish trad music by using a classical music notation and expect the music to conform to it — even if you think it’s conceit. You do certainly seem to know about conceit, Jig, though, since it’s your conceit that you’d like it to even though it patently does not work that way. You are asking Irish trad to change its nature just because you want it to, so it’s all nice and neat and handy?

There are too many marvelous players out there who don’t play with a classical pulse as described by classical musical notation, which is how I was trained to read music originally. All of them are right, too, so *pfft* for classical musical notation for anything but an aide memoire.

You can think that reels and hornpipes *are* in 4/4, polkas in 2/4 or whatever if it pleases you, but it will remain true that they are NOTATED in 4/4, 2/4, or whatever, not necessarily played that way.

Irish traditional music is very, very simple, but it’s certainly not easy, and the mysteries of playing with your own pulse or to cultivate that of other players is certainly what goes a long way towards that. All the top notch players of my acquaintance who care about this sort of thing (and it must be said that some couldn’t care less, or at least they say they don’t where anyone might hear) really truly value a bodhran player who can match the pulse and rhythm of more than one player and make a contribution to (rather than trying to lead) the session.

We ask that of all the other melody players, you know. I don’t see why we shouldn’t ask it of bodhran players as well.

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And pbbbhhhhttttthhhhht to you, Pete. *smirk* Will do, Will, altho you probably talk to them just about as much as I do. (BTW, if you ever get a chance, be SURE to wangle some of what?!?!’s sloe gin out of him. MMmm, mmm, yummy!)

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The Pauses are music too.

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Zina this is an open thread i am not arguing with anyone in particular, simply anyone who wishes to argue the point.
I certainly dont play with a ‘classical pulse’ LOL

But we are not talking about notation, as i have said a few times, there is a big difference between a notational system and a descriptive phrase that has been used within the notational system. 4/4 is part of the language , as are Reel, Jig and polka. These are descriptive words that are also used with in the notational system yes?
I agree its no big deal, ‘untill’ you get people playing 2 beats to a bar because they’ve read somewhere that thats what they are ‘meant’ to do. Thats all i am arguing against…. An intellectual approach to ITM as opposed to a spiritual approach for want of a better expression.
4/4 is basically.a shorthand representation of Four Beats to a bar , thats it, I am using 4/4 as an abbreviation.

Saint, that is a pivotal concept in all music. without the space there is no music. well said.

Re: Do bodhran players play other instruments?

In *strictest* classical notational terms, to argue the point, time signature actually implies a certain pulse and rhythm as "correct". That is why it is certainly possible for trad players to play reels in 2/4 (and some I’ve heard in 2/2, and occasionally 2/8 or 2/16, and a great many tend to slip and slide between time signatures because that’s just how they play). Speaking in really literal classical time signature notation terms, it’s 4/4 that’s incorrect.

4/4 implies that the main pulse, where it comes down harder, of the measure falls first heaviest on the first beat of the measure, then the third, then the second, then the fourth. Further, the pulse is subdivided, with each back beat also owning its own place within the measure. (This is why when a classical player picks up notation of a tune and plays it off the music, it usually sounds distinctly un-Irish, or un-Jazz, or un-rock, or whatever it is they’re trying to play, because all those forms utilize a different pulse convention.)

An experienced trad player can feel that strictly 4/4 time is largely the incorrect time signature for Irish trad reels (as opposed to being the easiest way to notate the tune), where the pulse of the measure is commonly otherwise, and even further, otherwise between expert player and expert player. (One musician of my acquaintance calls players who play in strictly 4/4 time "sewing machine players".) Keeping in mind that there ARE some players who DO play in 4/4 time, and they’re correct too.

Luckily, as you’ve agreed, it doesn’t really matter what classical time signature one thinks of Irish trad being notated in, because it’s just an aide memoire. What matters is if you can play it so it sounds right. It doesn’t matter if they play 2 beats to the bar so long as the pulse is correct.

In my experience, most trad musicians don’t even really know or care what "two beats to the bar" *means*.

As an aside, Jig, you might consider that an intellectual approach to Irish trad (and indeed a spiritual one as well) has it’s place, as people are built differently. Some people do very well taking an intellectual approach.

I personally feel that utilizing both gives one a better and quicker result. That’s probably because, in my experience, this is one of those forms of music (like jazz and bluegrass) wherein it’s considered perfectly reasonable for someone to say "look, you need to just relax and enjoy this stuff, you’re being too obsessive" AND "you need to work at your technique and really immerse yourself in this stuff to get better" and see no contradiction between those two statements existing within the same framework and time frame.

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>>4/4 implies that the main pulse, where it comes down harder, of the measure falls first heaviest on the first beat of the measure, then the third, then the second, then the fourth. Further, the pulse is subdivided, with each back beat also owning its own place within the measure. (This is why when a classical player picks up notation of a tune and plays it off the music, it usually sounds distinctly un-Irish, or un-Jazz, or un-rock, or whatever it is they’re trying to play, because all those forms utilize a different pulse convention.)<<

Exactly. the player needs to understand the idiom before using the dots to play the tune.

But this
>>In *strictest* classical notational terms, to argue the point, time signature actually implies a certain pulse and rhythm as "correct".<<
-Is rather an inaccurate generalization surely?
After all in compound time this is not the case.Neither is it in asymetrical or complex time. Here the pulse is shown by the grouping of the note. A 7/8 Rhythm could be grouped 123, 12,12 or 12 123,12. or 12,12, 123.

The 4 beats in a reel. 2 strong and 2 weak are generally grouped in two groups, 1234, 1234. This indicates phrasing. Not the Beat.

There are numerous old trad recordings showing this 4 to the bar beat clearly. A more recent clip of a Chieftains gig clearly shows Paddy Maloney tapping 4/4 with his foot before reverting to the easier 2 taps, 1 and 3.

>>n 2/2, and occasionally 2/8 or 2/16<<

What do you mean?
The lower number of course refers to the approximate length of the note, the ‘modern’ convention being that the ‘darker the bar’ the faster it is, so a waltze is 3/4 and a ‘presto ’ such as BWV1001 is in 3/8.
So to play a reel in 2/16 would be really fast. What exactly do you mean by this? [putting aside the 2 for a moment]


According to this system a reel would correctly be notated in 4/8.

The modern convention indicating speed with a metronome marking can be confusing without clearly specifying the size of the unit. Reels are often ,though not always notated in 4/4 . If there are 4 beats per bar, a reels correct dancing speed is 240BMP with the crotchet as unit.. …If there are 2 then it would be 120 BMP with a minim as the unit of measurement.
Reels have four beats per bar.Generally phrased into 2 pulses.

As far as i am aware this realm is that of specialist percussionists not tune players, do correct me if I am wrong.

I am very interested in this subject and am glad you can take the time to debate it with me and hopefully it will all become clearer for anyone who has the interest to read this. thanks

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jesus christ jig, give it a rest you feckin eedjit.

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Do bodhran players play other instruments?

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Re: Do bodhran players play other instruments?

The answer to the question, Saint, is: "Wrong question." If they play other instruments, then are they then bodhran players, or players of the other instruments as well as bodhran players?

Jig, it is not an inaccurate generalization. (There’s quite a number of classical musicians, teachers, and other professionals who feel that classical music can’t really be transcribed accurately either.)

Though the math may be interesting (and I have, to be honest, no interest in math), the point remains that it doesn’t matter how you write it down, it’s still played how it’s played, and it’s played a jillion different ways, or as one of London’s most beloved and popular guitar players told me last night, "It is what it is", his meaning being (correct me if I’m wrong, my dear, you know who you are) that no matter what we want it to be, Irish trad music is going to be what it is, no matter how we try to willfully mould it into our own ideas of what it should be, even if we erronenously think that what we think it should be IS the way it is. (Did I really write that?)

Buddy MacMasters put it another way during an interview, when he was asked if he felt that all the "modern influences" such as rock or jazz or what-have-you added into Cape Breton music these days would cause the old-style Cape Breton music to disappear. He said, with a quiet smile, "Oh, I think the music has another 100 years left in it. I think so."

"Phrasing", though, speaking strictly, is not inherent within time signature, and has nothing to do with time signature. It is inherent in the individual player’s playing (or that of the group playing, in the case of, say, an orchestra), and changes with their choice and whim.

In a form such as Irish trad or jazz or what have you (some people would say ALL music forms come in this category), where time signatures are limited, alien structures imposed upon and utilized for convenience and memory aids anyway, there is limited call for such overtly picky discussion — although IR-TRAD might be a good place for it, as there’s more musicologists there who might like to pick the nits with you.

I don’t believe that it’s necessarily a "percussionist vs. tune player" thing, either. None of the really good bodhran players I personally know ever really think about time signatures or subdivision of pulse or time. (Admittedly, they probably had to think about it when they first learned.) They simply go with what they hear the alpha melody players using for time and pulse, and put their own personal stamp on that, just like a melody player does. That’s part of what makes them really good, honestly.

Re: Do bodhran players play other instruments?

Fair enough Zina, but i enjoy playing music in both compound, simple and complex time i find it a little annoying to be told i dont understand a simple reel. I didnt say phrasing had anything to do with meter, simply that the phrasing is partyly transmitted through the way notes are grouped together.

But how many of your ‘really good ’ Bodhran players are fluent in complex time signatures? Because i find that most drummers i meet cant handle them at all. They are far and few and i would be delighted to meet a few more of them.

Re: Do bodhran players play other instruments?

Coming to this thread a few months late πŸ™‚

Happy to explore a few odd & complex time sigs with you Jig - Are you anywhere near Belfast?

Paul