8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

I am looking to head down to a session in the near future. I have read alot of threads that slam bodhran players for messing up sessions! Dont want to make a fool of myself ha! ideas?

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Switch instruments?

Talk to the session host in advance and make sure you’re welcome. Play softly, try to blend, and for the love of God don’t play on every set just because you don’t have to learn the melody to play.

The bodran players that wreck sessions either have bad rhythm, or insist on walloping the hell out of the thing relentlessly, on every single set (or even worse both).

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

1. Ask first. (Don’t be surprised it they say no. Depends on the session.)

2. Take turns, if there’s more than one drummer. An Irish session should not sound like a marching band.

3. Learn to play a melody instrument too. You will get a lot more respect that way, because that’s really what Irish sessions are all about. Tinwhistle is the most affordable way to go.

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Ask first.
Don’t play if another drum is already going. (You may want to talk to other backers and see if they’ll let you take a set or two.)
Learn the tunes on your mandolin and play that.
Keep in mind that bodhran is for backing, not leading.

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Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

I’m no expert on either sessions or bodhran playing, but I think that a truly good bodhran player can add a great element to trad. music.

I was at a neat session at Mulligan’s pub in Amsterdam in April, at which there was an outstanding young bodhran player. His acceptance at the session seemed to be connected to the fact that he played at an appropriate volume, behaved humbly by allowing the master fiddler to set the temp of the session, played appropriately for the kind of tune that was being played - and most importantly, he sat out tunes that he either didn’t know, or didn’t want to "spoil" with bodhran playing. So, that’s my advice. Have fun!

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

…to set the tempo…I meant to say. Typo…grrr!

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Thank you for the advice! I play guitar and mandolin so i know that setting a tempo and letting the other musicians play out is fairly important. Through playing melody instruments i have learnt to feel were the tunes go. Am not a massive fan of the modern style of playing either, tons of flashy top end playing and constant pitch changes, simple and effect is the way!

cheers

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Bodhrandave, Many times, when a new poster shows up, and immediately starts off a discussion on something like playing a bodhran, folks think that it is a joke being played, what is called a "wind-up." So don’t be surprised if this thread receives some negative comments. But it sounds like you have the right attitude, and you have gotten some good advice.
Good luck!

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Be careful where you point it:- If a mandolin player, for example, is broadside on, turn so that the rim is towards him. Don’t forget you don’t get the full ‘benefit’ where you are sitting.

Listen carefully to the overall sound: if you were hearing a recording, would you like what you are playing?

There’s a fine line between getting in the groove and going into the drummer’s trance (sometimes guitarists cross this line as well).

And don’t bang it between sets. Good luck and well done.

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Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

The good bodhran players - they are around! - take the trouble to learn a tune before they play it. It really does make a difference. So if you’re new to the music then do a lot of listening in sessions so as to get really familiar with the tunes before you play them. The other musicians will appreciate that and respect you for it.

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Good luck. Don’t even ~think~ about trying to track down my session.

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

I have a naive question. Dave, you have 8 months of bodhran playing under your belt, but none of it in a session. How do you do that? & what do the neighbors say?
Sorry, 2 questions.

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Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Dave,

I recommend, with all the greatness afforded to a nobody, you go in there, be yourself, listen, and start hammering away if you think you are up to it. It is important not to worry too much. It’s even possible that you are far better than your session compatriots. If you are a halfway intelligent person you will understand if your music styling’s are appreciated or not. If not, quite and listen indefinitely.

Petey

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Hi Bodhrándave
8 months is not very long. Take it easy. It may take 8 years to get the hang of it. The most important thing about playing the bodhrán is listening. Listening before you play, and then listening while you play.

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

You could try something I’ve done… I made a special tipper which is just a 9" dowel with velcro (the soft, hooky side) attached (I use the kind that has adhesive on the back) to the two ends. It makes for a very muted sound - I actually like it a lot for general use as well.

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

You say that you play guitar and mandolin.
What’s up with that?
Why are you not steering in that direction first?
Is it just because you have a thumping urge and need to be part of the session?
I’d suggest learning more about melody with your strings first and make those be your first experience in a session.
You’ll have a better appreciation for how hard the melody players work and it will make you a better bodhran player.

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Focus on your mando - leave the bodhran at home;
impress your friends and relatives with it

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Rather than focussing on your mando, focus on your mandolin.
(sorry, pet peeve - man-do is a haircut that makes you look more masculine)

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Come to think of it, I never saw anyone play a bodhran under their belt—doesn’t their belly get in the way?

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Um, I guess. Though it’s not doing a lot of good in his case, is it?

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

He seems awfully proud of it.
I bet his momma loves it too.
I wonder if he has a bodhran playing under his belt. :-P

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Take it to a session my son, take it to a session and hit it as good as you can.
You and the session will then live with the consequences if any
Peace love and bullsh*t to all,

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Keep in mind that Irish music, when played well, is full of nuance. An inexperienced bodhran player (and sometimes the experienced ones, too) can ruin the subtle things that the melody players are trying to do with the rhythms. There’s nothing more frustrating to a melody player than to be trying to go for a particular feel in the music, only to have it inadvertently driven to something else by clueless accompaniment.

When you go to the session, try not playing on some sets, and see if you sense some relief from the melody players.

And remember, at no point in time is it the job of accompanists to provide the tempo or rhythm in a session. That comes from the melody players, and the accompanists are there to support those ideas, not dictate them.

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

"When you go to the session, try not playing on some sets, and see if you sense some relief from the melody players."
You don’t have to be a backer to appreciate such sage advice.

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Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Hey, at least the man plays and instrument and doesn’t just whack at the bodhran with no knowledge of the tunes.

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

you probably are good enough.ask the players first

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

wow a lot of comments didnt expect such a response! I get the feeling it can be a love hate thing with the Bodhran. I will be as conscientious and courteous to the musicians i meet as i fully understand the respect and musicianship that folk music entails. In response to the leaving the Bodhran at home comment, i see it as a new challenge, i way into the music without taking any bad habits, as my guitar and mandolin playing come from a rock/pop background. I see the Bodhran as a way to learn the tunes and traditions on a clean slate as it were.

Many thanks for all the comments, nice to see such an interest!

Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Do whatever you feel is best in the session. I personally think anyone who wants to approach the tunes with a clean slate should put down any instrument & sing (diddle?) the tunes, not to say in the session ~ either outside of session or afterwards. Short of that, get a tinwhistle & learn some tunes which you haven’t yet played on mandolin or guitar.
I’m not steering you away from the bodhran, just giving my perspective.

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Re: 8 months of Bodhran playing under my belt, can i go to a session?

Random_humour, the lilting of tunes is probably what gave me the ability to play bodhran well at sessions. My friends did not like the lilting, I definitely wouldn;t have done it had I not known them, but it definitely helped me get used to the form of various tunes and understand where to use various percussive tools on the bodhran.

Tradtunedave, where are you playing / thinking of playing sessions at?

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