Would A Bodhran Player Be Mad If…

Would A Bodhran Player Be Mad If…

I was sitting in my living room playing the auld goat skin when I started thinking about my upcoming trip to Nova Scotia. As I was playing, I thought of last year when I went to a lovley session in Winnipeg. There was a nice fellow there who was teaching people how to play the bodhran. And I thought it would be neat if I met someone in Nova Scotia with a bodhran or a fiddle and I could play it.

Well, I said all that to say this.

When I play the bodhran, I am one of those, possibly off breeds of bodhran players, who like to hit the stick on the wood of the drum while playing. I like to start jigs off with a
*Boom Boom Hit Boom Boom Boom Boom Hit Boom Boom Boom Boom Hit Boom Boom Boom Ba Boom Hit"

Now, if some nice fellow up Nova Scotia way offered to let me play his goat skin, would it be in bad taste for me to hit the wood? I know this is stupid, but I think its an interesting question.

Would a bodhran player be mad if you were the type who hit the stick to the wood while play? I don’t think it does any harm to the wood, or is it just better to "knock on your own drum" at home? Hhaha, just thought this questions was interesting.

Johnathan

Re: Would A Bodhran Player Be Mad If…

Hi Johnathan.
I think you should ask if it’s OK, It’s not a technique that I use anymore (except accidentally), although I used to try every now and then, but I never got it under control.
Not that I’m having a go, if can master it it’s a great enrichment.
One of the problems with my Bodhran is that it has a sharp edge where the skin goes over the hoop and its quit hard to hit accurately, not to mention the fact that after a while you’d end up cutting through the skin.
When this style first became popular makers responded by producing instruments with a curve at the edge to improve accuracy and minimise cutting through to skin.
In short, if it’s got a hard edge I wouldn’t risk it even if I had permission.
TTFN
PP

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I think the wood-on-wood hit can be quite effective sometimes, but I’d be worried about the volume, esp to adjacent players.

Maybe not a problem in a big loud session.

Jim

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Absolutely NO. Rim shots [the technical term] can be infuriating to many musicians. Clickity click with the stick makes me very very very sick! :~)

My mate Paul Phillips [All Ireland Champion 2003] avoids rim shots like the plague and if it’s good enough for a champion it should be good enough for you.

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I’d say not to use them on a borrowed bodhran, Johnathan. You can, as pointed out above, eventually cut through the skin that way, so it’d be bad form to run that risk on someone else’s bodhran for them.

As for whether rim shots are good playing at all, the jury is out (and, since we’re the jury, of all sorts of different opinions). Personally, I like them every now and again, but find them incredibly annoying when used gratuitously. And I think there’s nothing worse than playing a tune just a little slow and tender and sweet and have some goat thumper come in with a ton of bippity-bap and an inappropriate flurry of rim shots, just because it’s slow enough for them to practice the things.

But I’d agree that when someone has taste and good judgement and knows the tunes, they can add to the music rather than detract.

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Would you be mad if someone hit your guitar? I think it’s a pretty bold move, and I would be annoyed. I have a high quality drum, and it wouldn’t be that there would be damage to the rim. I just think it’s bad form, and kind of indicates a disrespect for someone else’s instrument.

I think that rimshots are not a good idea, but they do occur on accident once in a while. Also, jigs don’t have to always be played the same way…listen to some really amazing player like Colm Murphy. No boom booms there.

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Exactly like Zina say’s "taste and judgement." Well placed "bones" and rim shots, like say nearing the last few bars of a tune where everyone seems to be getting louder, and perhaps faster and perhaps some really good musican is throwing in some equally well placed couterpoint to finish off the tune (which happens rarely I might add) can be effective and entertaining.

My feeling is also that playing with others, especially ITM, requires a good bit of sensitivity (to the music, duh!). Constant overuse of the rim shot, especially played loudly epitomizes insensitivity (not to mention lack of creativity) And like Gina, I personally find it very, very annoying.

(Ahh! But what would a seisiun be with out some annoying musicans…a joy that’s what…so perhaps I should stay home and practice some more, so as not to annoy!)

One of my best and dearest friends a bodhran player of considerable talent and stage presence, a man with more natural rhythm than James Brown, a man who can bring a crowd to it’s feet with a pair of borrowed spoons, only hits the rim on rare occasions.

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Rim shots should be used sparingly, like spice in a meal.
Interesting comment about the spoons, Paul. In the hands of a sensitive player with rhythm and technique, the spoons can make a great contribution to the percussive side of the music. But how often do we find such players (sigh)?
If the bodhrán is famous for being an instrument that any old goat basher thinks he can play, you can imagine what happens when such people get their hands on a pair of spoons!
Few things are more irritating than the clicking of an inept spoon player.

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Another idea about whether or not to play rim-shots on a borrowed bodhrán might be does the lender use rim-shots themselves?

A more irritating thing than what you said, murfbox, is a "good" spoonplayer who can’t stop playing them throughout the night. It’s only happened once. Never again! Words will be had if there’s a next time! (it wasn’t at my local session, I should add)

As to whether to use rim-shots or not, for meself I only use them in a tune or two that’ve already got that sort of beat

\())

\

Re: Would A Bodhran Player Be Mad If they learnt a few tunes first !

rim-shots !! ooh-er missus

Jonathan, do what yer comfortable with and stop asking permission.

the music ‘you’ play is about ‘you’ …do your own thing and don’t, (like so many people do) copy others.


it seems today, that evryone copies or adopts styles, including the ‘big bands’ (people accuse Danu of copying Bothy Band and rightly so!)

i think the likes of Johnny Doherty and Ed Reevey just did what came natural and thats what makes them great. it would be nice to see young musicians drawing from their experience and putting it into the music they play ! whats wrong with saying your Bodhrán playing is influenced by ‘Public Image’ or ‘The Pixies’ ..or your bouzouki playing is influenced by ‘the Jam’ or ”the Wonderstuff’ i’m sure it would make for more interesting conversations in sessiopns rather than talking about dead people.

Johnny Boy; Rim Shot till your Hearts Content , if you believe in it then no-one has any right to complain.

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"sessiopns" ??? god knows?

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Excuse me, though there have been several gratuitous comments about whether rimshots are a good idea or not, the question was, "is it okay to rimshot on a borrowed instrument." The fact that Johnathan felt it necessary to ask might tip him off that probably it’s safer not to. If a bodhran player who loaned an instrument didn’t want it played in a manner that might endanger in any way the instrument, hopefully they wouldn’t loan it at all, but if they’re kind enough to do so, they *would* have a right to complain anyway — it’s their instrument. Good on Johnathan for asking.

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zina is that an "excuse me" to me?

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Yup — in regards to the "if you believe in it then no-one has any right to complain." Let’s try not to get Johnathan shot, or at least mildly mauled, during his visit, yeah? *grin*

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Bolleaux ..people can and should do what they want.

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Not with someone else’s instrument.

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sorry yes ur right, missed that bit ..sorry

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Zina, and yes, I would like to come back from N.S in one piece. =D

Johnathan

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Another pretender to the throne.
PP

Re: Would A Bodhran Player Be Mad If…

This is not a rim shot this is playing on the wood a rim shot is a completly different technique ehich is hitting the edge of the drum where skin meets wood not like this which is hitting the wood there is a big difference and this is also a rare techique I use it too.

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Re: Would A Bodhran Player Be Mad If…

I’m particularly fond of the effect you get when you take the stick and run it over the tops of the nails, to get that "dddddddddddd…." sound in the middle of a reel. Also good for hornpipes, waltzes, jigs, slow airs, mazurkas and barndances.

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Re: Would A Bodhran Player Be Mad If…

Technically speaking, a rim shot is, as unseen mentioned, not the same as just hitting the wood. It’s a snare technique whereby you hit the skin and the rim at the same time. pretty difficult to do with the bodhran as it hasn’t got a raised rim, but the knobbled end of the stick can be used to compensate. Totally different from just hitting the wood or the studs…

Personally I rarely play the rim as it "does your head in" if overdone. Maybe three times in a year will I play a bar on the wood, and it has to be right for the tune - a particularly bland jig, for example.

I don’t think I would ever play like this on someone else’s drum, as some bodhráns are of lesser quality and may not be particularly sturdy, the rim may not fit well, the wood band might not be very dense; all of these are factors in the sound. What you want is a small click, as opposed to a big Thwack. Also, if the skin is thin and has been poorly fixed, or it’s too taut you might find that playing the rim will weaken the skin just there. So I wouldn’t even bother asking someone else if it’s OK unless they’re a very good mate.

Just my lowly opinion…

Conán

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I especially like to play off the rim for jigs (BOOM-bah-bah-CHICK, bah-BOOM-bah-bah-CHICK), because it sounds cool, and variations on jig time are fewer than on reel time. All variations should be used judiciously, though.

Regarding using someone else’s bodhran, since I don’t beat the thing to death, I have never found that playing off the rim increases the rate of wear on the drum. The drum is a percussion instrument, and it is not going to look pristine for very long. Play the way you normally do when you borrow a bodhran.

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Re: Would A Bodhran Player Be Mad If…

Johnathan, A traditional bodhran player will concentrate on playing on the skin part of the instrument. There are numerous sublties of tone and volume that can be achieved by left hand position and pressure on the back of the skin and by using the natural variances in the skin over the surface of the drum.

Having said that I have been tempted to hit the edge of the rim (and even tried the ‘stud scrape’), but never in a public.

If you want to play the ‘wood’ then I have seen a couple of very good players who will take the tipper off the top of the drum and play a few reversals of the tipper directly on the top surface of the rim body. (much easier with a 16" bodhran)

Back to your original question, I would probably not appreciate you ‘abusing’ my $500 tunable bodhran, so if you borrow one treat it like a prized possetion and give it back in the same condition you received it in. If you can’t do that then don’t borrow one and take your own with you. It’s not so big that you can’t carry it.