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Left Hand Blade

From bowiki

See Also Left Hand Tonal Control

The Inside Hand (generally the left) is a critical element in defining a bodhran player's own sound and in showcasing the sound of a great drum.

When a drum vibrates freely, the strike waves move like ripples through the drum's skin to the Bearing Edge and are then reflected back in toward the centre and out again etc etc.

If the bearing edge is indistinct the drum will be inefficient, the edge will be unable to accurately reflect those waves back into the centre of the drum as well as before; the lifespan of the vibration is reduced, tonal sustain is shorter and unwanted secondary reflections (wolf tones) may be introduced.

It is therefore useful to look at the nature of the contact between your left hand and the skin. Experiment with the tonal differences caused by these approaches

  • Look at how much of your hand is damping the skin,
  • how much is giving a clean definite contact,
  • Contact over a hand bone gives a more definite 'edge' & is cleaner tonally
  • how much pressure you are using? what happens if you press a little harder or less hard?

Another thing to consider is that when you are considering various left hand tonal technique, you will be changing the shape of the vibrating area of skin. The shape of your hand forms one of the finite boundaries, Is it an oval, a circle, a crescent? how might vibrations be deflected from your hand shape.

For the lowest note you will use, you should try not to strike an open skin, the sound is bigger for sure, but is very different from the hand-tensioned skin of normal play, it has a greater attack element but less tonal element. In preference you might use a little finger pressure on the skin to keep tone in the skin, this gives a more satisfying and timbre-consistent sound

There are many players who achieve tremendous sound from below-the-hand tonal techniques however the tonal control of playing above the hand and the clarity of tone that comes from the 'blade' make it a technique that will showcase a drum's tonal range.

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