Bodhran to cajon progression

Bodhran to cajon progression

I am a decent Bodhran player looking to learn the cajon. Has anyone done this before and if so can they recommend what type of cajon to go for and where best to learn?

I am well aware of the stigma attached to drummers in general and how showing up to a session with not one drum but two will look.

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Also be aware that the Cajon isn’t exactly smiled upon in the ITM world so this may get a bit ugly… Try to be civil people! 🙂

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So I wonder if you can explain your own psychology, you know that people’s hearts will sink as you arrive at the session, but still you want to press on with it.

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Is it a progression? 🙂 At least you’ll have a seat. Seriously, dude, just stick with the bodhran.

m.d.

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theres going to be some “gems” with this one and would love to help but i know absolutely nothing about cajons ,though have played with one ,once or twice. they,re pretty cool i think but you would certainly want to pick your ground. and please dont feel there is a stigma against bodhrans, just people who dont like them at all because they have certain tastes. wear it proud but not loud. same with the cajon and good luck with getting a useful answer.

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see. already!

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What is a stigma then Legend?

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Cajon plus ITM would be like mixing the grain with the grape, not advisable.
On the plus side, I heard a Cajon played with a Flamenco band and it sounded ok.

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Are you sure there’s not a free-form hippie drum circle in your area? Perhaps you could start one. You might have more fun without all those tunes getting in your way.

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See ! Not one usefull comment

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I’m assume your referring to the peruvian style cajon (as apos

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“See ! Not one usefull comment”

Sure! Never mind that you will wreck the session and be about as welcome as a turd in a punch bowl, you just go right ahead and selfishly do whatever you want to, look out for number one and feck em if they can’t take a joke!

There. Is that more ‘usefull’?

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Id suggest getting one that has the on/off switch for the wires, i think LP makes one. Search cajon on youtube and tutorials will be among the results

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Cajon sounds great played with border pipes, if you have a pipe band drummer playing the cajon. It also works as a substitute for a ceili band snare drum.

As to playing in sessions, for most of the players I see around here, I am channeling Cheeky Elf.

As coreye says get one where you can adjust the snare(s).

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I think cajons are cool and I’m all for experimentation, but why not round up some like minded friends and do it on your own dime? Why inflict it on a group of people who have gathered to play Irish trad?

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I thought my response was quite “usefull”. Being a decent player of a deid goat myself, I advised that the OP stick to the bodhran. Cajon sounds ok in context, works with pipes acceptably, but it’s not well suited to informal group playing of Irish music (which bodhran does). ‘Turd in a punchbowl’ is quite strong, but it’s not that far wide of the mark.

My Da was a legend, too ;)

m.d.

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Here’s a piece of advice you won’t here very often - “ stick to the bodhran”.

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The percussive vs melody instrumet war has been going on since man first stretched skin across hoop and drilled holes into reed..the singer whose instrument is far more traditional and prestigious wishes them both to go away

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Or alternatively, the singer can go away.

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Actually we gave our singers the boot a while back and luckily they took a half dozen of of our bodhran bangers with them. Last I heard they were having a fine time up the road, bless their hearts. 🙂

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Ha! Nice cross post there.

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Dan, I have a cajon - I’m learning to play it. It’s made by a guy in Buxton, detachable front panel, 3-ply birch, rear soundhole with a toggle-action snare consisting of switch + 3 bass E classical guitar strings. It sounds like this :

http://worldfiddlemusic.com/guest/cajon-file-2062.mp3

There are loads of models around. From what I’ve been told, 3-ply birch is best … also beware of too much metal on the snare assembly (if it has one). Feel free to message me if you want more info.

Also, check out Ross McCallum and Paul Jennings on Youtube for instructional materiel.

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Indeed, Kenny, and I stand by it - if the alternative’s a sodding cajon in a session. If I were President of the Universe, you’d only be allowed to bring a bodhran to a session if you were able to play a melody instrument as well … unless you’re Seamus O’Kane, natch 🙂

m.d.

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Some of the people who have responded here must been raised in an orphanage and forced to work in laundry somewhere.

You are f---ing nasty to each other. I won’t ask why, as that would only lead to the same bullshite that been going on here for the last few days.

God bless you all whom have been so nasty for you need more help than the lad who asked for help.

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It’s all out of love, no one is being nasty. 🙂

Actually, you’re close though! I was born in a laundrymat and work at an orphanage.

As it turns out “don’t do that” is quite often the best advice, and serves to minimize actual nasty situations, redundant paperwork and court fees.

It is, however, hardly ever what the would be offender or his instigating conspirators want to hear.

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@Taylor and Tenor:
Do you think the reaction would be different, if the OP suggested showing up with a cajon at a traditional Bluegrass jam? Find a Bluegrass-oriented online forum and make that suggestion, I dare ’ya. 🙂

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I’m not being nasty. I’m a bodhran player. I just hate cajons in sessions. Also trombones, washboards, miniature drum kits, saxophones, all of which have cropped up at sessions I’ve been at. I spent some time in the company of a Calabrian band who had a cajon player who rocked da house. But not in a session, please.

Also, it’s not a ‘progression’ anyway. Bodhran to fiddle? Yeah. To Flute? Hell yeah! The OP reckons he can play the bodhran, hence my well-intentioned advice to stick to it. That’s not nasty.

m.d.

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@Conical bore, do you encourage singing at traditional bluegrass jams?

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“Taylor and Tenor” -
1 - what’s your problem with someone “being raised in an orphanage” ?
2 - who’s being “forced to work in a laundry” ?
3 - my genuinely held opinion is that if the original poster wants to join in on a session of traditional Irish music, he should forget about the cajon, and - as I said - “stick to the bodhran”. You can have a different opinion, but I think it’s the best advice he’ll ever get. He can take it or leave it, I don’t care, until he turns up at a session I’m in, and then there will be free and frank discussion [ or more likely, I’ll just leave ].
We’re not allowed to be nasty around here these days, not that I think I ever was - can’t speak for others - but I don’t need help from you, your God , or anyone else.

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I reckon that even “The Sandy Bell’s Man” would give the same advice if he were here… i.e. “Stick to the bodhran!”

By all means, learn to play whatever instrument you like and, IF you get together with like minded people, everything is acceptable somewhere or other. You’ll often get (especially) younger players meeting for after gig sessions or their own special arrangements where you’ll encounter cajons, djembes, and all sorts but it’s not what is usually expected or desired in a regular session.

I speak not as an expert but just as someone who has observed what has gone on for many years.

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@coreye:
Singing would be common at most Bluegrass jams. It’s the heart of the music, at least historically, and provides structure for the interminable instrumental breaks. What’s your point?

There are modern offshoots from Bluegrass that are jazzier and more purely instrumental (Bela Fleck, etc.), but as Bill Monroe would say… that ain’t no part of nuthin‘. I’d love to hear what ’ol Bill would have thought of a cajon in the band. The exact words might not be printable in a family-friendly forum.

People in an Irish session who want to keep to certain limits aren’t any different. Open the doors too wide, and you’re no longer playing the music the group spent time and effort learning to play. I don’t see anything wrong with a bit of preservationist instinct to prevent that.

BTW, I like hearing (one) bodran in a session, played by someone who knows what they’re doing, who keeps the volume restrained to more of a pulse than a bang, and isn’t playing on every single tune. A cajon, not so much, but I’m not totally averse to percussion. I even have a little foot stomper gadget that I use in one of our outside quasi-Irish bands, but I’d never bring that to a session.

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@Conical bore, my point i would like to make is that what some people call traditional may not be very traditional at all, eg singing as far as i know is or was a part of pub session culture so if its the norm now to tell the singers to kick rocks then session culture doesn’t sound traditional to me

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As relating to percussion, a friend of mine said about her travels in Ireland that the best drummer she heard was an old man playing on a tin can with some sticks at a pub session.

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Coreye, the session I attend most often is mixed Irish/Scottish, and one of the participants is a lady who sits through most of the session, just enjoying the music. A couple of times during the session, she’ll be invited to give us a song. The instruments are laid down in our laps, the rest of the pub goes quiet… if not right away, it happens after she begins. And she sings a lovely song, unaccompanied, in Gaelic. Then we pick up our instruments and launch into the next set. Not everyone in our group is completely patient with it… I see a few itchy fingers here and there. Personally, I think it’s a nice interlude. If nothing else, it gives my poor old fingers a break for a few minutes.

That’s one aspect of traditional pub session culture. The other tradition might be everyone singing scads of Irish drinking songs with multiple guitar accompaniment. That’s the other side of the coin with “Irish music,” and not what many session musicians gather for. Then there are the generic Folk and singer-songwriter types who wander in, guitar in hand, and see a bunch of acoustic musicians playing, so it must be an “acoustic jam.” They pull up a chair, and want to know when it’s their turn to launch into a Grateful Dead song. These are the types of singers more likely to be bounced up the road to another pub, by those more interested in the traditional instrumental dance music.

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My advice is ask the session leader if a cajon would be appropriate for the session. You can do this relatively anonymously by phoning. If the session leader says yes, you’re on. If no, we’ll then, you know. You can still show up to play your bodhran.

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Conical bore thanks for your patience and anwser

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“See ! Not one usefull comment”

I don’t agree. I think Bernie 29 nailed it with only the third comment of the thread, “you know that people’s hearts will sink as you arrive at the session, but still you want to press on with it”. That’s not being anti percussion or elitist it’s just telling the honest truth. Please don’t hit things in an attempt to make music, it’s silly and makes decent tune players wish they were somewhere else.

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if the “i dont like..” people could turn their attention to jim dorans post ye might see an example of how to give a useful, informed, non biased answer to the actual OP.

cheeky elf i would never suggest that anyone should just join a session with a non typical instrument, that why i advise picking the ground, and you have my sympathies if you ever had to endure a half a dozen goat bangers.

ironically eneough we had a cajon in the session last night. great craic. and an instrument swop with a great discussion about technique. he didnt hog it or play for every tune and i think thats the secret as it is for the bodhran.

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Jim Dorans post may help the OP but not the folk who go to a session to play tunes, the folk who share a communal inner sigh of disappointment when the odd shaped case is carried into the bar. That’s why Bernies post is the most useful.

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Were there any musicians at the session Legend? I wonder if they thought it was great craic? I wonder if they’d think it was great craic if he turned up every week?

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Asking for advice about what kind of cajon to buy on a trad website is like asking for veal recipies on a Vegan forum. You’ll get what you get and it’ll pretty much serve you right. In fact, I’m not sure this whole thing wasn’t a wind up in the the first place.

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^^^ Arf!

m.d.

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A sigh of resignation!!!!

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Can anyone tell me if there’s another name for the tune in the video, Step it up Mary? Love the song.

I don’t know about the Bodhran player. He was playing too loud. And the sound of his drum…if mine sounds like that, I do something about it, like maybe just move my left hand.

On topic, please don’t play your cajon in a Trad session, unless it is private, like in your garage.

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Great song, isn’t it, Gam! Thank you!

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“Bodhran to cajon progression”

You make it sound like the bodhran is the percussion equivalent of a gateway drug. Maybe it is.

You start off on the bodhran but soon its rhythmic styles are not enough to satisfy you and you are moving onto the hard stuff. Sure you think you can handle the cajon. It is just a little bit of fun you say and you can give it up at any time but before you know it the spoons are out…

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Bodhran - gateway drug - love it - bodhran skunk - wahoo!

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Deborah - The “instrumental” in “gam’s” video is just the musicians playing the air to the tune, but if you listen very closely at around 2mins 24secs you can hear the first part of “The Musical Priest” being played in the background.

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Step it out Mary - written by Sean McCarthy from finuge , co Kerry. There is a festival there every year with crossroads dancin and stuff. He also composed other songs my favourite being “ shanagolden”. Beautiful air.

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Just watched the step it out vid and what can I say? Errr! Quaint?

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In all seriousness though if you want to find out more about the cajon in traditional music then you could do worse than checking out Paul Jennings and seeing what he advises:

http://www.pauljenningsmusic.com/

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‘Step it out Mary’ - loved the flamming in the first video by na Eisc!

[*Asking for advice about what kind of cajon to buy on a trad website is like asking for veal recipies on a Vegan forum. You’ll get what you get and it’ll pretty much serve you right.*]

@Cheeky - that may well be true on this site, but the OP (Dan Murphy) only joined the site yesterday, so he could hardly be expected to know that.

As to Dan’s original question, I think he thought it was much more important to him to get a decent instrument, and develop his skills, above anything else - which is why I posted a reply about the instrument itself, in an attempt to answer his question.

If his question had been something like, “Do you think a cajon would be accepted in a session?” then many of the replies would have been relevant.

From the answers here, I doubt if anyone has told him anything he doesn’t already know.

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I find it interesting that trad is getting compared to bluegrass. Bluegrass is not “traditional” any more than rock or jazz is “traditional;” it’s a music born out of traditional music but with performance practices and innovations that have almost entirely been set by professional, commercial musicians. Trad, on the other hand, is obviously influenced by commercial artists and recordings, but has been kept alive by amateurs and small-time, local professionals. A better parallel would probably be old-time, which is the name for the various and sundry traditions found around Appalachia and the Southern US.

I say this because “tradition” is hard to define, and what instruments should or shouldn’t be allowed at sessions is a touchy subject. The “traditional” instruments of trad are a mash up of what was common (fiddles and flutes, what was cheap (whistles), and what was useful (pipes replaced organs in many rural churches). Players adapt instruments to the music, and the music sometimes even grows around the instruments. Some people look down on the box, the banjo, the piano, etc., but all of these have highly skilled players who fit very well into the scene and who would be welcome at most any session they stop by.

So the key, then is not just to play the instrument, but play it well. I suspect that most who bash the cajon and bodhran have rarely heard it played well. Their disgust with the poor musicianship of the player gets transferred to the instrument. Play it well, and you’ll be welcome. I say this as a guy who’s brought a five string banjo to sessions around Ireland and has always gotten bemused, then surprised, then quite positive comments. If you play poorly and don’t respect others’ playing, though, you’ll get ten times the wrath a poor fiddler or flautist would get.

Finally, if anyone would get up and leave at the sight of a strange instrument without hearing the player, that’s a reflection on them, not the instrument.

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Amen brother!! what became known as “traditional” bluegrass was a modern take on old timey music of the past, and in the past they played bones, tamborines, washboards, spoons and WOODEN BOXES

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I’m not sure what the point is with the Bluegrass comments. Bluegrass is what it is, and cajons, sitars, and trombones are going to seen as unwanted intrusions. As would bodhrans, flutes and uilleann pipes.

And, yes it’s different from Old Time music and that is precisely why people play Bluegrass at Bluegrass jams and Old Time music at Old Time jams.

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Cheeky, my reply was to conical bore’s analogy to a bluegrass session, which I did not think apt. You are right that those instruments would be unwelcome at a bluegrass session; my point is that trad has had slightly lax-er restrictions on instruments in the past, which is how free reed instruments, banjos, and bouzoukis have become common and accepted at most sessions.

I’ll reiterate that the player is the most important thing. I should have added the corollary that people will tolerate a learning fiddler much, much more than a learning cajonist. I’d suggest to the OP that he get the cajon but hold off bringing to sessions until he feels he can play well enough to overcome the “sinking” feeling of the other session-goers.

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I’ve always seen irish music as a down to earth people’s music where having the right energy is more inportant than the type of instrument. but others view it as more of chamber orchestra baroque era time piece music complete with authentic period instruments

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Wow, all these posts and not one has pointed out the danger of striking your cojones when playing your cajon.
😉
Music is best when shared between consenting parties. Before bringing such a non-traditional instrument to a session, I would make sure that all participants are willing to welcome it. If they are, more power to you!
One group I know that makes good use of the cajon in the setting of (somewhat) traditional music is the Duhks, some kids from Canada who have put out some excellent albums (although their music has gotten less traditional in recent years, and I myself have grown less interested as a result).

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Some of us haven’t got any!

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It is quite a singular drum isn’t it!

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@bigsciota:
“Cheeky, my reply was to conical bore’s analogy to a bluegrass session, which I did not think apt. You are right that those instruments would be unwelcome at a bluegrass session; my point is that trad has had slightly lax-er restrictions on instruments in the past, which is how free reed instruments, banjos, and bouzoukis have become common and accepted at most sessions.”

Yes, and there’s a reason for the more lax restrictions on “allowed” instruments in Irish trad vs. Bluegrass. In Irish traditional music, the unison melody instruments are the heart of the music. It doesn’t exist at all without them. That’s why, unlike Bluegrass which has a more rigid structure involving chord backup underneath vocals and instrumental improv, an Irish session can accommodate a reasonably large number of melody instruments as long as they sound consonant together.

This whole discussion could be boiled down to the question of why melody players are more welcome at sessions than chordal and rhythm backers to “support” the melody players… whether the melody players are actually looking for that supposed support, or not. And that’s been done to death here, over the years.

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And let’s not get into that discussion yet again… 🙁

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[*Asking for advice about what kind of cajon to buy on a trad website is like asking for veal recipies on a Vegan forum. You’ll get what you get and it’ll pretty much serve you right.*]

Jim Dorans said:

@Cheeky - that may well be true on this site, but the OP (Dan Murphy) only joined the site yesterday, so he could hardly be expected to know that.

………………………………………………..

He said in his original post that he knows. I’m genuinely interested to know if he has any insight into his own motivations, it’s a real puzzle to me why someone would decide to behave in that way.

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[*I’m genuinely interested to know if he has any insight into his own motivations, it’s a real puzzle to me why someone would decide to behave in that way.*]

I doubt if you’ll ever know, because I don’t think Dan will post anything again after reading some of the responses here. I honestly think his post was genuine, and he’s just interested in learning another instrument.

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Well, the OP considers himself to be a “decent Bodhran player” which may, of course, only be a subjective opinion.

However, if he is, I’d have thought that he’d have already had enough experience of the ways of sessions by now to answer his own question.

Personally, I would have no problem with this instrument in the right situation and in the “real world” there are all manner of sessions and different arrangements. However, it would certainly not be welcome in “pure drop” Irish(Or Scottish equivalent) sessions but… for good or ill….. I’m afraid these are in the minority.

So, it’s a case of knowing where you are and respecting the wishes of the others there. Experience along with a bit of common sense is probably the best guide here. As I said, if Dan has been playing for any length of time in different sessions, he shouldn’t really need to ask.

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Thanks, guys! Step it out Mary. Ok. I like the guy’s voice in the first video, but his Bodhran sounds like plywood, but I like his style. Don’t care for that other thing. Maybe in a different setting. I liked Gam’s video the best. I’m not crazy about cowboy music, which this song isn’t, so why mess with a good thing. You’re right, DaLegend. And I prefer them in the creek (or was it a river.) I heard The Musical Priest for the first time just this week. When I listened to this video the first time, I thought I recognized something. Thanks for pointing that out, Kenny.

Dan Murphy, if you like it, learn it, play it, somewhere, just not with these guys.

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This is really good. Lively, intense, and sad. How Irish can you get. I’d quote Yeats, but I can’t remember the entire quote, right now. Worked all night. And no I am not a hooker, I’m a nurse. 🙂 The guy on the Bodhran is not using a tipper. I can only do that if I don’t think about it. 🙂

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVyC8LJG2pE


just testing this to see if i can post a link to youtube. im a bit of a troglodyte and just figuring stuff out. its supposed to the bloomers version of step it out mary, so if its not and turns out tb something like Tyrone Power did with a disney movie, my apologies in advance .
just another take on it for comparison.
so now i push the button!!!!!!

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“The guy on the Bodhran is not using a tipper” He is, actually. He puts it on the little platform in front of him and picks up the shaker. Near the end, he puts the shaker back and picks up the tipper. It’s quite a thin one and hard to make out when it’s moving; but you can see it lying there when he’s not using it.

Thanks Da Legend -- nice stuff there.

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I’d never heard of the Bloomers--nice playing and singing on that video, thanks for posting.

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When you show up at a local session with your cajon just make sure to have the right traditional time period clothes and you’ll be fine 😉

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thanks guys! i know i was way off topic but that was hijacked way back. now that i,ve figured out how to link from youtube im going to have to record something that i may better edjucate the mass’s (Ha!)

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Yes, The Bloomers, very nice! Thanks. Gam and DaLegend. I thought I saw him pick up a tipper, then later thought it was my imagination. Lol

Back to the cajon…

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I should let this go, but I can’t resist one more comment. It’s often mentioned here that there are some melody players who double on bodhran, which gives them a leg up on the tunes and rhythms. There is a fiddler in one of the regular sessions in my area who does this.

Here’s the thing… a tipper is easy on your hands. It’s not a big deal to whack a few tunes on bodhran and then go back to your melody instrument.

A cajón on the other hand, means beating on a plank of wood with your hands and fingers. It’s not as gentle on the muscles and joints as using a tipper on bodhran. I was a onetime percussionist in a former life, and I have a few hand drums around the house, mainly for family visitors (and especially, their kids) to bang on for fun. But it’s rough on the hands… even something with a calf skin like djembe, because you’re also hitting the wood rim under the edge of the drum for the higher-pitched strikes (if you’re doing it right). I keep these drums around for guests, but I’ve stopped trying to play them because it tears up my hands for playing mandolin, guitar, or flute… the instruments I’m trying to focus on, these days.

At least a bodhran is something you can pick up and lay down, while still participating with a melody instrument. A cajón player will probably always be a cajón player unless they have hands of iron. Or maybe they’re very young. The flexibility and resistance of youth allows much abuse of the body. 🙂

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Cajons and bodhrans are all very well in a band or where the player is invited. It’s just the attitude of “I’m going to learn a percussion instrument so I can join in with a session” that gives these things a bad name. If you want to join in with a session learn the music and play it on an instrument. Either that or set up your own session where it’s understood that a free for all is taking place. The replies in this thread generally show who actually plays the music and who like to hang around with those who play the music. Sorry, but don’t bring percussion to sessions uninvited.

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Conical Bore, what do you mean by “there are some melody players who double on bodhran, which gives them a leg up on the tunes and rhythms”?

Surely you’re not suggesting that playing the bodhran in any way helps with the rhythm of tune playing? The rhythm possible on a bodhran is basic compared to the rhythm in a well played tune.

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The rhythm possible on a Bodhran blah di blah, pish!

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@Minerva McGonagall: No, I was trying to suggest the reverse and didn’t phrase it clearly enough. A fiddler (for example) who knows the tunes and rhythms has a head-start on being a good bodhran player, compared to someone who picks up the bodhran with no experience playing the melodies.

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Conical bore Bang on with that. I treat every tune and version as an individual story and ye can’t just see all jigs as 6/8 and so on. There’s just as much difficulty and and it can’t be learnt over night which is the usual misconception. Without an intimate knowledge of the tune ye can’t interpret it and there is a distinct advantage in learning a melody instrument first even if its just a tin whistle

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‘Just’ a tin whistle? What do you mean by that?

Re: Bodhran to cajon progression

It might be worth repeating here (I believe I mentioned it before) that when I was in a pipe band many moons ago, the pipers were issued with sheet music for each tune, and so were the drummers. Obviously it’s more relevant when you have a load of drummers playing together, but the principle still applies -- each tune had its own specific drum score. No generic reels or marches or ‘basic rhythm patterns’. You had to learn the ‘individual story’ as Da Legend aptly puts it. Example here for those of a strong disposition --
http://www.drummingmad.net/scores/DM_Scores/1-BEGINNER/GreenHills-Rev0.pdf

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Re: Bodhran to cajon progression

Sorry cheeky elf. Sort of expected to be pulled up on this. Didn’t mean to be disparaging about the tin whistle itself. I meant it in the context that it is often a starter instrument for kids and learners. If or when they change there mind no big financial commitment and is more accessible ( not easier) than say a fiddle or Bodhran ( believe it or not)

Re: Bodhran to cajon progression

[*… even if its just a tin whistle*] I just interpreted that as meaning the tin whistle was regarded as being one of the easiest melody instruments to learn, that’s all.

Re: Bodhran to cajon progression

Just stepping over the egg shells. Thanks jdw

Re: Bodhran to cajon progression

As I crunch egg shells in 4/4 time, I find stringed instruments easier for me to play than blowey ones. It’s all relative among kinfolk.

Re: Bodhran to cajon progression

“I just interpreted that as meaning the tin whistle was regarded as being one of the easiest melody instruments to learn, that’s all.”

I just read this (again) & thought, “Why make such a claim unless one is willing to spend time learning whistle?”

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Re: Bodhran to cajon progression

I almost bought a cajon with part of my retirement check last month. Then I realized that I have two bohdrans and haven’t got a clue how to play them either. I’ve already got a guitar stool, I guess a noisy box with a seat-pad is redundant. I’ve got three whistles too. Guess what else I don’t play!