The Irish frame drum Bodhran has it all. From the critically observed, often even despised evils reluctantly tolerated in Irish Trad Sessions to the serious instrument, the range goes. We owe a more respectful approach to the small drum for phantastic musicians such as Cormac Byrns or Martin O’Neill.
A new era
A lot has also happened in terms of construction, and I was able to witness a rapid development up close thanks to the inspiring work of Christian Hedwitschak. In the meantime, we have the opportunity to insert a versatile instrument homogeneously into music even away from Irish Trad and thus slowly but surely step out of a niche.
For the first time, I experienced the Bodhran at close quarters more than twenty years ago as part of a few sessions in Austria. Fascinated by the way the game and the sound are played, I discovered video recordings of technically incredible solos.
This one session in Dublin
But it was only on my first visit to Dublin that the decision was made to take this instrument into its own hands. I was lucky enough to sit in a pub unexpectedly in a round of musicians who met there for a session. As is customary in cosy rounds among friends, the musicians took turns picking up pints for all the competitors at the bar. So is the gentleman sitting right next to me at the Bodhran. After a short, searching for a parking space for the drum, he simply handed it over to me along with Tipper and instructed me to continue playing.
Completely perplexed I kept the instrument very carefully and waited for the musician to return.
At this moment, I vowed that next time I should be asked to play, I should be able to do so. A short time later I began to practice self-taught on a LightLine 2.0 by Christian Hedwitschak and took part in a workshop in Dachau a few months later. I could hardly have gotten a better start, because the teachers were none other than Siobhán O’Donnell and Martin O’Neill.
By the way, this was also the time when I started practicing Irish Trad on a freshly acquired lever harp.
The little ones are the best
As life plays out, I quickly discovered my preference for smaller drum diameters, and the fact that a perfect solution immediately appeared in the form of a used MOF (also from the workshop of Christian Hedwitschak) can only be described as a coincidence.
Since then, this drum has accompanied me on sessions, stages and other occasions, supported by a collection of Stevie Moises’ tippers with whom you have a wonderfully wide range of timbres at your disposal.