Now what is the hardest trad instrument to play
Well there were quite a few opinions last week on the easiest instrument to play.
I think it goes without debate that the tin whistle is, as practically every child in school in Ireland learned the penny whistle.
Now to expand on this and discuss the most difficult.
If we look at the origins of trad music we can see that it was primarily played for the dancers. It then, with time became popular to play together and form a session. You will still see Ceili bands playing especially for the various set dancers.
To deviate slightly on this theme we can also consider which was and now is the nicest and best instruments to play in a session . The bosca ceoil, the fiddle and the flute are and to this day and not to forget the banjo.
Of course other instruments enhance a session such as the pipes, concertina, the piano and I was recently sitting beside a harpist in a session which was beautiful. The mandolin, and bouzouki a Greek instrument introduced into trad in the 1960s by Johnny Moynihan of Sweeney’s Men also adds sweetness to the overall sound. As for the bodhran there are many different views on this drum. So back to the original post.
If you take all stringed instruments you either pluck the string with your fingers or a plektdrum and this makes a sound. It requires lots of practice to achieve an acceptable sound especially the banjo. Nevertheless once you pluck the strings a sound is produced. The fiddle produced a sound when you draw the bow across the strings. The box and concertina for instance produces a sound when you press a button which allows the air to pass across a metal reed which makes a sound. A combination of buttons pressed will also produce different notes and in such a sequence a tune. There is no denying that the pipes are complicated as you have to coordinate the bellows and the bag with the chanter, the drones and the regulators. However once the technique is mastered the sound or note is produced by allowing air to pass through the many reeds. The whistle standard or low produced a sound when you blow into it. Again both hands/ fingers used will sound a tune if used correctly. So now we come to consider the flute. This instrument is in my opinion the most difficult to master. You will use your 2 hands and fingers just like all the other instruments discussed but you also have to produce the sound. There are no reeds, strings, keys or buttons to assist you. It is a fact that when a person starts to learn the flute the most difficult part is to get a sound out is flute. It can take many many hours of practice trial and error to get a reasonable embouchure. It is not unheard of for a flute tutor to send a pupil home with only the mouthpiece head joint and practice getting a sound from it.
It requires shaping your lips, facial muscles tongue and throat and lots and lots of patients along with good lung capacity. . Apart from this the sound tone produced is very different for trad music than
classical. Lots of people give up on the flute early on and change to a more forgiving instrument.
So there you have it, my opinion and as with any posts I submit I’m always open to and interested in your opinion.
Stay safe and enjoy your music whatever instrument you love and play