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Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater

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EBarnacle 19 Oct 17 - 11:39 PM
Mr Red 20 Oct 17 - 04:32 AM
Jack Campin 20 Oct 17 - 06:58 AM
leeneia 20 Oct 17 - 11:26 AM
Tattie Bogle 20 Oct 17 - 05:33 PM
Jack Campin 20 Oct 17 - 07:45 PM
Mr Red 21 Oct 17 - 06:01 AM
leeneia 21 Oct 17 - 10:57 AM
Jack Campin 21 Oct 17 - 04:06 PM
Mr Red 21 Oct 17 - 07:11 PM
EBarnacle 21 Oct 17 - 09:09 PM
Dave the Gnome 22 Oct 17 - 02:19 PM
Mr Red 23 Oct 17 - 03:34 AM
Tradsinger 23 Oct 17 - 04:37 AM
Gutcher 23 Oct 17 - 05:22 AM
leeneia 23 Oct 17 - 10:31 AM
Raggytash 23 Oct 17 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,Modette 23 Oct 17 - 12:09 PM
Mr Red 24 Oct 17 - 06:12 AM
Jack Campin 24 Oct 17 - 12:50 PM
Tattie Bogle 24 Oct 17 - 07:26 PM
Jack Campin 24 Oct 17 - 08:44 PM
Mr Red 25 Oct 17 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Oct 17 - 11:51 AM
GUEST,Modette 25 Oct 17 - 04:07 PM
Mr Red 26 Oct 17 - 03:42 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 28 Oct 17 - 04:14 AM
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Subject: Tech: design for a beater
From: EBarnacle
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 11:39 PM

Lady Hillary got a bodhrain at our local rummage sale. It did not come with a beater. I have a nice piece of lignum vitae. Any design suggestions?


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a beater
From: Mr Red
Date: 20 Oct 17 - 04:32 AM

Lignum vitae is hard and dense so don't make it too big (fat). Length - mine are about 7 - 8 inches long. My 'hraning really started to gel when I found a tipper with a feature in the (not quite) middle. It sort of led me to place the stick between 1st & 2nd fingers, not thumb and forefinger. Or if I want to be flash, three beaters between fingers (it does make for a different sound). I quickly carved the nobble into a cruciform or a three pointed feature (not so successful). I do see people fit rubber bands centrally for grip. And by being non-central a feature can make for two different beaters, which is handy.

Have a look at my selection.

The one on the left has rubber balls covered in leather, I thought it would be quieter but it is not that noticeable, the leather has friction so it is not as easy to play (for a beginner) you do need the tipper to be able to slide IMNSHO. Send from right is my favourite, the dynamics probably come from the length v weight configuration.
The one on the right and is rather nice to use & made of walnut, and I show it to sessioneers and they don't see it coming when I say "I only bring it for the craic" - a multi-use instrument!

Oh, and at the dynamics of your arm means that the wrist does not do as much of the movement as you would think (none IMO). The arm rotates from the elbow, and positioning from the shoulder joint. The way I hold the tipper means the wrist is not bent so it is not stressed.

And if you are a musician you will appreciate it when I say it is not the hits that make it interesting but when you don't hit. I have had favourable comments on my style. That and choosing a volume that makes people give that look to the banjo first!


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a beater
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Oct 17 - 06:58 AM

Try these:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WijPkznVNEY


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a beater
From: leeneia
Date: 20 Oct 17 - 11:26 AM

My husband plays bodhran. His tipper is made from rather lightweight wood. Lignum vitae sounds too hard and dense.

Google this:

where to buy a bodhran tipper

and just buy one.


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a beater
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 20 Oct 17 - 05:33 PM

I play bodhran too - not so often these days, as my button accordion has sort of taken over. (Do I hear a hooray? - one less bodhran out there....)
I very rapidly ditched the beater that came with my first drum.
As Mr Red has shown, a knobbly bit in the middle can stop that beater from slipping through your fingers/flying away when you really get going. If you get one without a central knobbly bit, an elastic band wound around the middle multiple times can serve the same purpose.
Grip? Each to his or her own, but I was taught to hold the beater like a pen then rotate wrist round - so, in effect, I am holding it between index and middle fingers, but thumb comes down to stabilise it all.
How many beaters? Sorry Leeneia - more than one as they all do different things!! I have 6, as follows:
General purpose mid-weight one with central knobbly bit
Very light-weight cherry wood one - ideal for fast triples and not too heavy a sound: e.g. if playing along with a whistle solo (only if whistler is happy for this, of course!)
Big fat heavy one - for sea shanties or Morris dancing when you are just maybe playing one or 2 beats per bar, more like a bass drum.
Straight hardwood one - thin but with brass weighted ends - good for when you are playing with a big band and really need to make a big sharp noise!
Ch-ch-ch-ch - a pile of sticks all bound together - goes great with any train songs! They can be expensive to buy, but my husband made me one out of a pile of wooden kebab sticks - held together with t rubber bands and insulating tape - cost pence and does the same job!
Brush - I use a single plastic snare drum brush, ideal for anything bluesy: can imitate exactly what a snare drummer would do for a blues, dragging brush over the drum skin then emphasising backbeat. (Have seen someone using a shaving brush, but you really couldn't hear it!)


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a beater
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Oct 17 - 07:45 PM

Try this with a bodhran tipper:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEk9PUNSTBs

Or as they did it using the same technique 2000 years ago:

Pompeii frame drummer


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: Mr Red
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 06:01 AM

Yea I have a washing-up brush (it makes for a cleaner sound) it is a sort of follow-up to the Walnut gag. I do use it, if rarely. I bought a bodhran brush from Soar Valley Music and when I lost it, they had one left. I tried to buy a third as reserve but they only had one batch, all gone. It is all bristle with enough nob to suit my hold (eg for waltzes), but mostly I use it as a snare. With practice, they told me, you can hold it and lift or apply to the inside to vary the snare on a beat by beat basis, if you so choose. I do.

In a book on the subject I saw one picture of a tipper hold that had the ball feature at one end held between middle fingers nestling in the palm, wrist straight, with tipper out at right-angles. Sort of my hold except I hold midshhips not at one end. The strap-line was "every person finds a hold that suits them"

Try this with a bodhran tipper not at the session I go to. The amplifier would get you chucked out if the jinglies didn't.

And yes, if it fits, there is nothing to stop you using your fingers much like a tipper would move. It can be quieter, or you can (like my three sticks) get a multi-strike effect depending on your choice of fingers.


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: leeneia
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 10:57 AM

Ebarnacle asked for advice.

His wife bought a used bodhran. It has a rawhide head made of goatskin, and we don't know where it's been. Drying out in an attic, perhaps. The goatskin naturally has places that vary in thickness and strength.

It seems only reasonable to suggest a lightweight tipper like the tippers that comes with a new bodhran.


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 04:06 PM

Or no tipper at all as I've been suggesting.

How did bodhran technique happen? Frame drums have been played for thousands of years and many cultures have worked out how to play them effectively - that Pompeii drummer must have been pretty good to be worth putting in a mosaic, and variants or descendants of that technique have continued uninterrupted in places as far apart as Sicily, the Basque Country and Iran. There's a picture of a player from 19th century southern Scotland who appears to be doing the same thing, and I've seen an archive film from Ireland before WW2 of a woman with a tambourine doing a less elaborate version of the same style.

Or with long drums, you have the whole military/danceband idiom that started with the armies of the 18th century, mixed in a bunch of African influences and ended up with the shatteringly effective sound of the modern pipe band drum corps.

Or across the pond you get all the multi-layered rhythms of Latin American percussion which make an independent contribution as important as the chords or melody.

So, there is no lack of precedent for trad percussion which draws on a long tradition to do something that really makes a difference to the music - heightening expression, energizing the dance, sustaining the endurance of dancers or marchers, drawing the audience into a trance.

But somebody in the Irish scene around 1950 decided that what trad instrumental groups needed was sluggish thumping with the world's most useless beater design which made no attempt to relate to the rhythms of the tune or do anything at all functionally related to what the music was for. Who do we blame for this?


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: Mr Red
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 07:11 PM

Se?n ? Riada

there are those that will tell you that the word bodhran is as old as the hills. So it is, but the Irish Dictionary it first appears in is more like a word list and bodhran didn't get a description. Not until as late as the 1930s does it appear as a drum. Documentary evidence is not only hard to come by before 1949, it is characterised by its absence. But urban myths make better stories.

Hide stretched over a hoop can be made by anyone, and if you pierce holes in it with a hot nail you get a sieve - ideal for separating husks and flour. So before it becomes a sieve - it must have had uses in music, but that is speculation, the evidence is ...................... not there.


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: EBarnacle
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 09:09 PM

Thank you all.


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Oct 17 - 02:19 PM

How about one of these?

Just kidding!

:D tG


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: Mr Red
Date: 23 Oct 17 - 03:34 AM

I'll try again - since I copied it from Wikipedia

Sean O'Riada


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: Tradsinger
Date: 23 Oct 17 - 04:37 AM

Given that the bodhran is coined from the old English riddle drum, I think designs should be more in keeping with southern England. I suggest a logo of the Cerne Abbas giant on the drum, and then you can guess what shape the beater should be.


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: Gutcher
Date: 23 Oct 17 - 05:22 AM

Jacks mention of a picture in Southern Scotland showing one of these instruments in the 19th.C.reminded me that Neil Munro describes the instrument in one of his books and calls it a "Dollan," this being well prior to the name bodhran being used for the instrument, if the information in one of the above posts be correct.            

Munro was a gaelic speaker although he wrote in English, perhaps someone who is a gaelic scholar [I use the term in its Scottish context] can check if "Dollan" be from the gaelic.


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: leeneia
Date: 23 Oct 17 - 10:31 AM

i really wonder how many of you have ever heard a good bodhran solo. Try it someday.


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: Raggytash
Date: 23 Oct 17 - 11:04 AM

My good lady had a beater made by a friend of ours. He drilled out one end and added a small bit of moulten lead and then resealed the end. He's good, you cannot see a mark on it at all. She finds she can use it to great effect.


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: GUEST,Modette
Date: 23 Oct 17 - 12:09 PM

'A good bodhr?n solo' has absolutely nothing to do with my nation's traditional music.

I'm not a fan of the drum, though I don't mind it so much when it's played by hand, as it still is in some parts of Ireland's NW.


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: Mr Red
Date: 24 Oct 17 - 06:12 AM

Hoop drums appear in many historical records. But the word bodhran as allied to a drum of a specific shape - is harder to find in documentation. And 1949 is grandparent's or even great granparent's time. So it is "old" and therefore always existed? That's the way the myth goes.
There was a Mudcat thread on the history of the word, and only one person opined it was in an ancient dictionary. The one I refer to above. A scholar, more erudite than I, pointed out the dictionary was mostly a word list, and for our word, just that, a word.

As I often say in these contexts, there is always someone who knows another fact that you don't. And someone who KNOWS a fact that you don't. And one who KNOWS but is actually not quite correct.

But it doesn't prevent me from being the latter once in a while.


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Oct 17 - 12:50 PM

"Dollan" is maybe cognate with north Indian "dhol". Drums are usually named with onomatopoeic words.

It's quite likely frame drums have been around in the British Isles pretty continuously since the Neolithic. But what makes the bodhran different from every other drum of that type found in any culture of western Asia is its uniquely incompetent and ineffectual technique. The difference between a bodhran and a bendir is just that a bodhran has to be played badly to be considered traditional.

The link with riddles is not just found in the British Isles - I've seen a workshop in Turkey where they made both riddles and bendirs.

I suggest a logo of the Cerne Abbas giant on the drum, and then you can guess what shape the beater should be.

A Real Man can play it with no hands?


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 24 Oct 17 - 07:26 PM

Leeneia: why so defensive? I did not mean to be rude by suggesting that you might just need more than one beater (tipper), just stating facts that others are very useful (and will not harm your drum either, as you seem to suggest!) You seem to have a lot of inside knowledge on the history of that particular bodhran picked up in a rummage sale......? Or maybe just speculating?
And I have seen plenty of VERY good bodhran players, whose skills I could never hope to surpass: John Jo Kelly, Martin O'Neill, Johnny (Ringo) McDonagh, Mark McGuire, Mark Dunlop, Mog. I even met John Jo in Edinburgh, and he let me play his drum.....how great is that??!!
So here is John Jo, playing with the legendary Mike McGoldrick: bodhran solo starts at just after 2 minutes if you can't wait: John Jo Kelly Bodhran solo


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Oct 17 - 08:44 PM

John Jo Kelly (who I have heard live at least twice) was exactly the sort of dork I was thinking of. One-trick pony with a few showpiece stunts and totally incapable of complementing a melody in a way that heightens its effect. I'd never go to a concert where he was playing, no matter who he was playing with.


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: Mr Red
Date: 25 Oct 17 - 03:55 AM

The link with riddles is not just found in the British Isles

Oh dear! So Peter Kennedy (& father Douglas ) were making things up when they published "Folksongs of Britain and Ireland" - a piece about the Dorset Riddle Drum but my bodhran informer did say the Sussex Riddle Drum is documented and "older" (as a document).

Methinks Sid Kipper has had a hand in turning something into a joke and myth. But it would be just like a PhD graduate to have a higher in joke on us!


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Oct 17 - 11:51 AM

Tattie, I was addressing the people who have to get on every thread about the bodhran and complain about players who supposedly have no talent and can't keep time. (I suspect it's the posters who can't keep time.) It's another example of "The Great You Shut Up," the very common tendency to embarrass and squelch ordinary people who want to make music.

This thread, for example, has more than one link to men playing very tight, tintinnabulating drums with their hands. It's kind of fun to watch their hands, but the cymbal-like impurity of the tone gets irritating after a while - 20 seconds. Why link them? Bodhran playing produces a warm, deep thrumming, not a shrill jingle.

As for Ebarnacle's new bodhran, here we have an instrument unloaded at a garage sale by people who couldn't even keep track of the tipper. Does it seem likely that it has been properly cared for? No. So why risk an unusually heavy tipper at the outset?


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: GUEST,Modette
Date: 25 Oct 17 - 04:07 PM

Like many people who defend the blasted drum, Leeneia, you shy away from direct questions.

How does the bodhr?n enhance the playing of tunes?


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: Mr Red
Date: 26 Oct 17 - 03:42 AM

How does the bodhr?n enhance the playing of tunes?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Of course.

All I can say is when a professional drummer/harmonica player** asks me when I will be next at the session he is regular at...................

I must be doing something to add to the tune that the other professional musos, there present, are not objecting to. And I have had other favourable comments. And like the musicians, I get irritated at drummers who substitute volume for skill- does that make me a muso?


** at the same time.


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Subject: RE: Tech: design for a (bodhran) beater
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 28 Oct 17 - 04:14 AM

'Documentary evidence is not only hard to come by before 1949, it is characterised by its absence.'

Fintan Vallely has come up with interesting material and insights regarding this all. May be worth looking into.


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