Stomp Box Menace

Stomp Box Menace

I cannot be the only person to detect the menace that has become "The Stomp Box" in Irish music. Or, as someone identified more accurately, Irish Traditional "Festival" Music. It has certainly been a feature right across all festival main stage acts this Summer - ludicrously fast reels, oh hear comes the B part, thump, thump, thump…pumping the crowd up. Really? I saw Celtic Fiddle Festival twice this last weekend, packed festival crowd, no stomp box, just old-fashioned brilliant musicianship - and the crowed absolutely loved it! All ages, people dancing, enjoying themselves, no hushed reverence - no stomp box needed. Am I losing it, or what?

Re: Stomp Box Menace

Have you tried the DL-4 delay/looper?


Just kidding! 🙂

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New styles of ‘Trad’ I suppose, It certainly works a treat at festival performances we (Sásta) play, and it will often engage/include a younger audience who want to dance, a thumping beat always helps! Look how bodhrán styles have changed from the 70’s & 80’s to now … it’s just evolving…. which is a great thing! Bands like Flook, Kan, Moxie, Sharon Shannon etc all adding beats to their recordings & almost always to their live festival performances…. ALDOC (for example) doing amazing things recently & attracting attention to Irish music from a huge audience who never would have been interested before? I understand what you are saying & you certainly have a good point, but I reckon there is plenty of room for the ‘pure’ music you are talking about & the modern stuff, and a good audience for all tastes. Right, I’m off to play me Cajon! ;)

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I reckon you’d be better off adding a dancer to the line-up; more engaging and has a context into which the noise can fit. But if you’re going for Irish folk or Celtic rather than trad then whatever works, it’s just a louder clogging board really.

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Mick,

I have no problem with progression and constantly adding new elements and textures - our music has always been "magpie" in nature. The fiddle, flute, mandolin, banjo and bazouki etc. all added to the soup down the years. Electronica and beats etc are all to the good. But the Big Thud on the "one" doesn’t do it for me. It’s too easy and obvious and gives a sameness from one act to the next. But, hey, enjoy it will ye can. Keep her lit!

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Oh, you’d meant THAT type of "stompbox."

I expect that most everyone on here would empathize - with a predilection for music without such bombast. Yet as has been mentioned, younger audiences, generally, find volume (and visual spectacle) inspiring. Likewise, large crowds, such as you’d find at festivals, probably find inspiration in a crashing thud on the one.

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Are we talking about amplified boards or boxes for stomping here? I think the first time I saw that in performance was at a Solas concert about 6 years ago. They saved it for the last couple of tunes, and it did add some energy to the closing of the show.

I experimented with it briefly using a "porchboard bass," a floor gadget with a pickup. I thought it might be fun to try with a trio I was playing in at the time. But it never worked out. The problem we had was that, once you start using it, it’s very noticeable if you STOP using it. It’s like having a drummer or bass player suddenly leave the stage. So we either had to use it for a significant part of a performance or save it for a build-up at the end, like that Solas concert. Too much trouble.

For what it’s worth, the last three concerts I attended by the likes of Lúnasa, Altan, and Natalie MacMaster didn’t need stomp boxes to drive the music. But I guess that’s "old school" stuff. I haven’t been to any larger festivals where this might be the current rage.

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At our local "celtic" festival a few weeks ago, after some acoustic bands throughout the day, the festival closer - "Red Hot Chili Pipers"… electric guitars, synths, drum kits, congas…I guess there was a set of pipes as well…my guess is there was some type of "stompbox" involved -

I didn’t stick around for it, myself.

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Have you a video of the offensive stomp boxes in question?
I have been playing in pubs and clubs using a loop pedal for about 3 years now . I started beat boxing the rythim but I now have triggered pads on a Roland cahon , I also have a base pedal that I use as a loop !
I have so far recieved no complaints and in general I think using this gimmick / technology has opened doors !
I play in a duo with this set up at least once a week but it can be as often as 5 night a week!
I also notice the kick drum on 1 gets people fired up!
It has always done so for me and it features as a clap or foot tap with most trad players playing reels and I think it drives a tune far more than the Canadian pedal taping that is all the rage!
I do practice and develop my use of looping in the way I would with any other instrument!
I am sure the first piper to play with regulators would have also got stick on the session or perhaps the first accordion player who used the bass hand , but there you go!
When you perform music all you are doing is communicating feelings or emotion or ideas with an audiance ,
I do this with the use of Scottish and irish traditional tunes and songs!
I played for a very long time without the use of any technology other than amplification!
I guess I make the looping part of the performance and so people know what they are getting!
I do tend to hold an audiance for 3x 45 minuet sets !
I also get bored of the way some people play gigs when they play like its a session!
I suspect the root of the music we play is one solo melody player and perhaps an acompianist , perhaps playing with a stomp box is no less unorthodox as having a fiddle play with a piper or flute player .
However you play music you won’t and should never aspire to pleasing everyone all of the time .
If you have never played with a loop pedal give it a go even if it’s just for fun !

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@ Roddyjohnston:
"It has always done so for me and it features as a clap or foot tap with most trad players playing reels and I think it drives a tune far more than the Canadian pedal taping that is all the rage! "

Canadian foot tapping isn’t a recent rage. It’s part of the tradition, if we’re talking about Québécois music. Like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmQG2NSfsMY&feature=player_embedded


And here’s how to do it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRKUgY4H9o8


Cape Breton fiddlers will do this too, when they get a bit excited, although it’s not as formalized as the Québécois style. Just watch any video of Andrea Beaton playing for a local dance. I think this kind of embedded "podorhythmie" is different, and much more integrated into the tradition, than stomping on the "1" with an amplified stomp box. It’s a high click instead of a deep bass stomp. Watch YouTube clips of Martin Hayes for more examples of some audible footwork that doesn’t detract from the music.

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I must say, I’m equal parts offended and amused by the discussions I see on here repeatedly bashing percussion as it relates to trad. including (but not limited to) bodhrans, stomp boxes etc.

I think you need to assess bands in the setting that they’re performing in orderly to properly judge them. For example, when the trio I perform with plays a festival in a main tent, we aim to blow the roof off the place, and include all sorts of stuff from step dancing, to stomp boxes, to Quebecois foot tapping. . Likewise, when we play a festival on the trad. stage, we’re much more subdued, perform sitting down, and pull from our much more traditional repertoire.

Another point that’s been brought up in this thread is that it all depends on how it’s used, and how it’s balanced with the other instruments. Of course if it’s disproportionately loud, it’s going to sound absurd, and if it’s playing all the time, it’s going to become monotonous. Use at the end of a reel or jig set, or to punctuate certain segments of a song seem to be the most appropriate use.

I see the stomp box’s use in trad. as an effort for the musicians to help bring the energy felt from foot tapping/stomping when playing acoustically, onto the stage.

There’s my 2 cent deposit.

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Well to answer your point about the slagging percussion gets here, I’d say it’s simply because trad has very complex intricate rhythms, pretty much every tune has it’s own unique rhythm because the rhythm comes from the melody . So basically to get respect and welcome the percussionist needs to know the tunes , or be a very careful and intuitive percussionist with a lot of experience of the tunes. To understand the music.
For me the worst thing musically is to have a drummer or percussionist who doesn’t understand the music playing along, it just flattens everything out. It destroys it for me, I can’t play, I’d rather stop. Absolutely . That’s why I don’t play at gatherings where I know there will be ignorant drummers joining in. It ruins it .
On the other hand a percussionist who does understand and knows the tunes is my favourite player to duet with without doubt though a knowledgable guitarist is a close second.


Regarding the use of the stomp box , synths, electric guitars, loops , bass etc, well that’s an entirely different story. As musicians earning a living we often play to crowds who have a musical understanding base in MTV ,you tube, auto tune and computers . Etc etc , it’s a fact of life that unless you cater to the crowds tastes you can forget earning anything above subsistance level and probably not achieving that!.
To play in a pure drop style what are your options financially? Session hosts, the odd trad gig, (maybe the ’ big time’ like lunesa or style , river dance 😎 and this is already show business ) teaching……. Ah anything else?

It’s simply a matter of style, there are many styles , from pure drop to ceali band to scots, London, classical ,university, CCE , Shetland, Cape Breton , East Clare, Donegal etc etc etc ,this is just another style ….. Fusion or tradance or whatever you want to call it house trad or psytrad 🙂
Understand that many people here have chosen a preferred style and if what you do doesn’t fit that box you might get slagged!! Personally I think there is room for all styles here.
I propound a preferred style of playing that is basically solo pure drop but includes East and west Clare , Donegal schetland , CB and Scotland . But I do also like shooglenifty and I have broad tastes in music, from Bach to slipknot 😎
Viva la differance
It all has its place in the order of things

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Yes what I am getting from this thread is that basically some people like there music to sound acoustic and the same as it used to be !
That’s fine !
I also love listening to a great solo fiddle or flute or whistle playing tunes exclusively from before the revival!
I like listening to solo players or duos becuase I am a musician and I enjoy listening to the lilt !
Everything you or me play has a question mark over taste and authenticity,
Irish and Scottish music have very complex rhythm built into the melodic structure and have both been lifted and destroyed by accompanists over the years !
I joined this conversation partly because I am interested in seeing who is doing what ! Tbh I don’t think anyone quite knows what is being referred to as stomp boxes apart from the original poster !
I woils love to see what other people are doing with loop pedals or blocks of wood !
There is a tendency on the session to give a voice to some people who seem to think they are custodians of the tradition !
I use this site to search for detail in the tunes I want to learn!
I don’t tend to respond to the music police flagging of people " braking the rules "
Notice the discussion that came up recently showing YouTube clips of people not playing tunes properly!
What’s that al about ?
I do play often for dancing and I think essentially that is at the root of irish and Scottish trad music !
I have noticed trying to play in a performance context that acompianists from a session background often don’t give the music the jiz it needs !
One of my favourite recordings is that nimbus recording of cape Breton fiddlers playing live in Dublin ! Listen to what the main footwork on that recording is on the reels !

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Roddyjohnston said - "I (would) love to hear what other people are doing with loop pedals…"

Well I’m not using them in ITM context, but I have a duo-partner (guitarist) with whom i play arco string bass, clarinet, bass clarinet - who’s infatuated with the DL-4 and Bill Frisell. In addition to these, I like to loop oud, other woodwinds, hand percussion … I guess you might say the ambient fields I like to create might evoke lots of space, maybe a "middle eastern" flavor .. (definitely a contrast to the dense sound of horns, hot percussion and trad Latin forms I love!).

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Catty- which looper are you using? how do you mic all of those instruments and connect them to a looper? I’ve been using a single microphone with a DigiTech JamMan Solo XT, but am soon to switch to a Boss RC-30 as the Solo XT doesn’t have a dedicated microphone input, and the sound gets too choppy after a while. I think this is because the JamMan is designed to take an input from a guitar pickup.

I’m interested in creating a looped performance combining fiddle, classical guitar, stomp box and vocals, and am wondering if I will need to use a mixing desk to create a single signal to send to the looper, since that is more instruments than inputs on the RC-30, and I can’t find any loopers with a more appropriate number of inputs.

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I only play with looper at home - I’ve used whatever toys were accumulated - boss, joyo, sm-57s, 58s…fine for our purposes - we’re not doing any recording, just playing. My mate is the tech/electric guy - he uses the DL-4. My piece is the acoustic instrument - piezos on upright, horns through the mic - which I’m only playing one at a time. The horns mic very well, although flute is harder to get a good signal.

Were I a young man, I would be more into the toys - I’m sure.

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