Holding the drum
The drum is normally played when sitting. In the case of a right handed player it will sit on the left knee with the frame pointing directly ahead or slightly to the right, it is supported by the left hand inside the drum and held snugly against the front left side of the chest. The edge of the drum will ususlly find a resting place in the crook of your elbow. This method is the same whether cross bars are employed or not, the use of cross bars really is to facilitate left hand pressure for tonal use or to hold the drum when standing, but this is much less common because of having to execute both left hand supportive and tonal requirements simultaneously.
Which hand is used where?
Inside HandThe Sub-dominant hand (usually left) is placed inside the back of the drum against the skin and is used to affect the sound of the drum by changing tensions, the active skin area and/or muting the skin inside the drum.
Playing The Rim
It is possible also to play on the wood shell of the drum. There are many different ways of doing this, some for selecting individual accents by moving the tipper to contact on the rim or you can turn the drum around and play the entire rhythm directly onto the body. It may take a while to get an angle that suits both tipper and rim 'hitability' but the tipper actually only needs a very small area to play, and you should find a comfortable and accessible position.
Playing on the rim can be loud. Many people find it to be irritating. Be warned!
Subject to Much Discussion - Use With Care!
See category:Bodhran Technique for full descriptions
- Handstriking - Playing the drum with the back of the hand or knuckles, it is proposed that this is the original style of playing the drum - also called the Roscommon Style
- Kerry Style - the 'standard' style of play that has existed since the drum and stick came together. It is proposed that this is originally a hand-striker style but holding a stick.
- Top end style - Contemporary style using the bottom end of the stick and top end of the drum
- Limerick style - Where the stick is held with the top in the hand and the body pointing back toward the player. If you can imagine the kerry grip above but with all the stick below the thumb
Left (voice) Hand
The left arm has two main purposes;
Keeping the drum upright and held comfortably but firmly to the player's body. This can be a tricky part for new players or a new drum, particularly if the drum doesn't have a crossbar. Practise lots, spend time getting used to the drum you will soon develop familiar and comfortable position.
Tonal Control See Left Hand Blade
The role of the inside hand isn't usually the most instantly obvious or visually impressive contributor to the sound from a non-drummers perspective, yet it is at least 50% of a bodhrán player's personal sound.
I explain this role is by drawing a parallel to our own voices where the voice box creates the sound and the mouth shapes it; a bodhrán tipper will create the sound and the left hand will speak its message. This is why I sometomes use the term 'voice' hand in a teaching scenario.